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In the Name of God بسم الله

Hezbollah and the ummah

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Hezbollah and the ummah: sublime and the pathetic

By Ayaz Amir

“You are fighting a people who have faith such as no one else on the face of the earth possesses... who take pride in their history, their civilisation and culture, who also possess material power, expertise, knowledge, calm, imagination, determination and courage. In the coming days it will be between us and you, God willing.” — Sheikh Hasan Nasrallah, Secretary General Hezbollah

WORDS such as these haven’t been heard across the Middle East for a long time. They signify the birth of a new resolve — not to suffer wrong passively, as the Arabs and Muslims have been accustomed to do for a long time, but to stand up against the oppressor and defeat him.

American and Israeli frustration is easy to understand. They have been used to dealing with puppets and tinpot figures — sonorous phrases on their lips, fear and timidity in their hearts. Now in Gaza and Lebanon they are encountering a new breed of fighters, fearless and resolute.

And so they are doing what comes most readily to them: pinning blame on Syria and Iran, plying the airwaves with the most outrageous falsehoods (helped in this most loyally by CNN and even more by BBC) and refusing to see that the attacks on Gaza and Beirut far from destroying Hamas and Hezbollah are adding more fuel to the fires of resistance.

After so much death and destruction in Gaza, support for Hamas should have crumbled. It has had just the opposite effect, Palestinians rallying round Hamas’s flag. After days and nights of relentless bombing of Lebanese cities, the people of Lebanon should have turned against Hezbollah. They haven’t. Hasan Nasrallah is a hero because Hezbollah — in Robert Fisk’s words “one of the toughest guerrilla armies in the world” — has the courage and strength to stand up to Israel.

But the contrast couldn’t be more striking: on one side Hamas and Hezbollah, and their fierce determination, the willingness to take on the most fearsome odds; and on the other, the pathetic spectacle of Arab and Muslim impotence.

Far from wanting to do anything for the Palestinian and Lebanese resistance, the kings and autocrats of the Muslim world are angry at Hezbollah for exposing their (the autocrats’) helplessness. Kings of Jordan, presidents of Egypt made their peace with Israel long ago. They are champions now of the American cause with no stomach for confronting Israel or annoying the US. How can they be comfortable with the idea of resistance? According to Ori Nir in The Forward, a Jewish newspaper appearing from New York, “In a particularly unusual move, one top Jewish communal leader, Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman, visited the Saudi ambassador in Washington, Prince Turki al-Faisal, to thank him for his country’s condemnation of Hezbollah for igniting the crisis by launching a cross-border raid against Israel and abducting two of its soldiers.”

From the same write-up: “Jewish groups said that they were quite happy with the response of several Arab countries, namely Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.”

To this picture of collective impotence here’s Hasan Nasrullah’s answer: “As to the Arab rulers, I don’t want to ask you about your history. I just want to say a few words. We are adventurers... But we have been adventurers since 1982. And we have brought to our country only victory, freedom, liberation, dignity, honour, and pride... In the year 1982 you said... we were crazy. But we proved that we were the rational ones, so who then was crazy? ...So I tell them simply: go bet on your reason and we will bet on our adventure, with God as our Supporter and Benefactor. We have never for one day counted on you. We have trusted in God, our people, our hearts, our hands, and our children. Today we do the same, and God willing, victory will follow.”

How can the cardboard figures presiding over the destinies of the world of Islam warm to such uncomfortable words?

Spare a thought also for the powerful republic of Pakistan with its 600,000 man army, nuclear arsenal and long-flying missiles. The hearts of the Pakistani people may beat with that of their brethren-in-faith in Gaza and Lebanon but from their government hardly a squeak has come out, its muted commentaries on the Lebanese situation couched in the softest possible terms.

But then what is to be expected from a dispensation whose foreign minister was happy to cavort with his Israeli counterpart in Istanbul last year and whose president applauded Israel’s ‘withdrawal’ from Gaza? (A picture in the papers the other day showed the US ambassador sitting amidst Pakistan army and police officers at a ceremony to ‘honour’ anti-narcotics personnel. The US ambassador showing all the condescension that one shows to a well-trained poodle, this while Israeli bombs, actually American bombs, were raining down on Lebanon. It won’t be any time soon before we come to realise what looks right and what doesn’t.)

Hezbollah is the only force in the Muslim world which can claim victory over Israel, forcing Israel to retreat from southern Lebanon in 2000. Even now while Israel commands the skies of Lebanon and blockades its waters (although even there Hezbollah has scored a triumph by hitting and crippling a sophisticated Israeli helicopter-carrying warship), on the ground Hezbollah is proving more than a match for the Israeli army.

Israel has everything in the US armoury, making its military one of the most effective in the world. It certainly has an edge over all Arab armies combined. But it is not finding it easy to fight Hezbollah in south Lebanon.

What is Israel hoping to achieve? It can kill as many innocent civilians as it wants — and already more than 200 have been killed as a result of indiscriminate bombing — but defeating Hezbollah, a phantom army which has the ability to strike but is not easy to find (classic guerrilla tactics), is another matter. If war is a continuation of politics by other means, it is hard to figure out what the politics are in this case.

Just as the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has, unwittingly, served Iranian interests — by removing from the scene Iran’s sworn enemy, Saddam, and allowing Iranian influence to grow in Iraq — the Israeli assault on Lebanon far from doing Israel any good is undermining the position of Lebanon’s anti-Syrian government and immeasurably adding to the stature of Hasan Nasrullah, not only in Lebanon but across the Muslim world.

As an Associated Press report puts it: “After fierce fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, posters of the bespectacled Nasrallah in his black turban have sprung up throughout the Gaza Strip. Demonstrators carry Hezbollah flags and chant slogans in his support. In the West Bank, Palestinians tune into Hezbollah’s Al Manar television station to hear Nasrallah speeches and follow the group’s progress in its war against Israel.”

Hamas is mainly Sunni, Hezbollah largely Shia. Support for Hezbollah transcends this sectarian divide.

There is no shortage of despised figures in the world of Islam for whom the Muslim masses (not the elites) have nothing but contempt. But something new is emerging, a galaxy of heroes of whom the masses can be proud: in Iraq the resistance which has humbled and made a mockery of American might, in Lebanon Hasan Nasrallah and glorious Hezbollah, in the Gaza Strip equally valiant Hamas, in Afghanistan a resurgent resistance and, whether anyone likes it or not, Sheikh Osama bin Laden.

The US had a splendid opportunity after Sept 11 to capture the moral heights had it conducted itself, for all its justified anger, with dignity and restraint. This would only have been possible if men of vision had been at the helm of affairs. To America’s misfortune a small-minded cabal was in charge which sought small-change advantage from that huge tragedy, thus turning monumental grief and anger into a shallow-minded policy of vindictiveness and retribution.

We have seen what has come of this course: Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, the folly of Iraq, and, as a direct consequence, an arc of defiance and resistance spreading all the way from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Opportunity turned into a nightmare with the end nowhere in sight. As Byron said, “The thorns that I have reaped are of the tree I planted.”

Edited by Abuzar
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i hope sayyid hasan nasrallah learns from this. he talks about 'ummah' this and 'ummah' that...BULLSH*T!!

The ummah is vey much with Hezbollah. The usurpers ruling most of it are with their American masters.


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The hearts of the Muslims are with them... whatever their sheikhs and governments say.


I agree with Abuzar. The political leaders do not care about Islam. They mostly care about their own interests, therefore they arent supporting Hezbollah. This includes Wahabi Sheikhs (political opportunists), the Saudi royal family, etc. Even rich businessmen no longer care about Islam. However, its safe to say that the majority of the Islamic Ummah is with Hezbollah.

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Doesn't seem like the Muslim masses are much bothered . . .

The fact that Muslim masses - both Shi'a and Sunni - have come out on the streets to demonstrate against Israel and in favour of Hezbollah indicates to me that they are ..... @)

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You guys should just learn how to turn the other cheek, we've been doing this for years and look how far we've gotten :angel:

Well, Muawiya (la) too turned that cheek in Siffin. B)

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The only doctrine which matters

By Ayaz Amir

IN seminaries and schools dedicated to obscure and sometimes hairsplitting debate, the usual Islamic schisms — Sunni, Shia, etc — may still loom large and matter a great deal. But in the arena where the world of Islam is under threat from invasion and occupation, these are increasingly irrelevant considerations.

When survival and existence are on the line, religious disputation (the bane of Islam throughout its history) is bound to take a back seat.

Hamas is Sunni, Hezbollah Shia but the two face a common enemy in the form of Israel and the United States. They are therefore fighting a complementary fight, each, consciously or unconsciously, helping out the other.

When Hezbollah challenged Israel, it helped ease pressure on Hamas. No wonder the Hezbollah leader, Sheikh Hasan Nasrallah, is a hero for the Palestinian people (and increasingly a hero for Muslims throughout the world).

Surrounded by hostile Arab neighbours, Israel used to be David, or at least looked the part, when it was carved out of Palestinian land by the western powers. With the Arabs (barring Syria) making their peace with Israel on American terms, the roles have reversed. Israel is now Goliath and Hamas and Hezbollah the children of David (wielding his slingshot to deadly effect).

Israel is finding it easy to slaughter Lebanese civilians and bomb civilian targets. It is finding it less easy to defeat Hezbollah. No Arab army has fought Israel the way Hezbollah has, with such resolve and tenacity. In the past Israel has fought fast-moving wars, disrupting enemy lines, bypassing fortified positions, inducing shock and surrender. This time it is being compelled to fight a war of attrition in South Lebanon.

Hezbollah tactics are vintage Vietcong, its fighters, to quote one writer on the web, “...operating in a network of underground reinforced bunkers and command posts near the Lebanese-Israeli border almost unassailable by Israel Defence Force bombs.”

Two days ago the Israeli army proclaimed the capture of the small town of Bint Jbeil near the border. The next day it suffered heavy casualties there (up to 13 killed and over 20 wounded) and the fighting was still going on.

Syria is Sunni, Iran Shia but with both countries facing American (and Israeli) hostility, they find themselves on the same strategic axis. Is Israel likely to be drawn into conflict with Syria? We don’t know but there is a clear danger of this war spiralling out of control. If Syria is sucked into it, Iran will come under pressure to do ‘something’. That will make this conflict bigger than anyone could have imagined, unless of course Bush’s neo-con warriors, wanting to distract attention from Iraq, deliberately go about stoking the fires of a wider conflagration.

That would be counter-productive if not downright stupid, but then the Bush White House has been less than clear-headed in many of its policies after the Twin Towers came down.

Not long ago Iran (Shia) and the Taliban (fanatic Sunnis) were sworn enemies, uncompromising standard-bearers of two conflicting interpretations of Islam. Today, thanks to American hubris and bungling, they find themselves on the same side of history, Iran in a state of confrontation with the US, a resurgent Taliban battling US and other forces in the bleak terrain of Afghanistan.

Only in Iraq where Shias and Sunnis are killing each other does this analogy not hold. But even in Iraq the loathing that Shias and Sunnis nurse for the American occupation far surpasses their hatred of each other. And even there the Iraqi parliament, despite its puppet status, unanimously voted (Sunnis, Shias and Kurds voting together) to condemn Israel and call for a ceasefire.

If the carnage in Lebanon continues, Shias and Sunnis can still pull together. As fiery Muqtada al-Sadr warned recently in Kufa, “I will continue defending my Shia and Sunni brothers, and I tell them that if we unite, we will defeat Israel without the use of weapons.”

No one expects the wider Islamic world to send volunteers to Lebanon. The spine for it does not exist among Muslim governments. But why are even their lips sealed? Bangladesh has condemned Israeli “state terrorism”. But Pakistan under its valiant military rulers can’t bring itself to utter a single harsh word about Israeli atrocities. One of the few leaders Gen Musharraf has spoken to during this crisis has been King Abdullah of Jordan. Says it all, doesn’t it?

No conference of clerics has convened to bridge the divide between the two great opposing camps of Islam. No conscious attempt at unity has been made. But facing Israeli-American aggression, Shias and Sunnis across the arc of fire which now rages in the Middle East find themselves on the same side of the barricades, finding common cause against a common enemy.

American plans have run into the sand. “The war on terror” — that misbegotten offspring of calculated evil — was meant to root out Islamic radicalism and destroy the last pockets of resistance in the Palestinian territories and Lebanon. The contours of Iraq were to be redrawn according to American wishes. That’s why Iraq was invaded and not because of any fiction about WMD. Syria and Iran were to be brought to heel.

None of this has happened with US forces bogged down in Iraq, Iran defiant, Hamas acquiring legitimacy as the elected voice of the Palestinian people, Syria not bending to America’s will, and now Hezbollah taking on the might of the Israeli army.

The question facing the world of Islam is a very simple one. Whose side are you on, the aggressor or the victim of aggression, the oppressor or the oppressed? There is no space for neutrality here or for silence because both amount to siding with the oppressor and playing into his hands.

As George Bush said in a different context, “You are either with us or against us.” He who is not with Hezbollah and Hamas is against the forces of Islamic liberation.

Pushed around and humiliated, the world of Islam is in a state of ferment. Its old elites have proved colossal failures, unable to provide democracy or stand up to the western powers. The Muslim masses are finding it hard to figure out whom they detest more: their own rulers or the American-Israeli axis responsible for so many of their woes.

The vacuum created by the bankruptcy of the old elites is being filled by the forces of Islamic radicalism. This new radicalism has nothing in common with the ‘fundamentalism’ of such organisations as the Egyptian Ikhwan. It is progressive in outlook and dedicated to social redemption and the fight against Israel and its patron, the US. It is not hostile to America, only to American policy.

Iran and Syria, as the US in its more blinkered moments chooses to think, are not behind this phenomenon. It is beyond the capacity of either to be responsible for such a far-reaching development. Islamic radicalism is a response to Islamic humiliation. Iran and Syria are not behind this humiliation. America and Israel are.

There is a lesson in all this for Pakistan as well. Its elites (including the military which has always been part of this elite club) have also failed the test of nation-building. Able to deliver neither democracy nor welfare, their most signal achievement has been submission to America and the creation of an exploitative order. If only they could realize the extent of their growing irrelevance.

How fareth the armies of the faith? Alas, not much better. Their leaders spout ignorance. Some of them have proved to be past masters at hypocrisy, talking of democracy but sleeping with the enemy. Some religious outfits, although mercifully not all, deal in the worst kind of sectarian violence, bringing a bad name to Islam.

But there are other role models to follow, none more inspiring than Hamas and Hezbollah. What distinguishes them above everything else is their spirit of defiance and resistance. If only through some miracle some of this spirit could rub off on the Pakistani nation and those who lay claim to being its leaders.

Edited by Abuzar
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Unintended consequences

By Ayaz Amir

“THIS mortifying war”, as a columnist in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz describes it, was supposed to destroy Hezbollah quickly. But it has now entered its fourth week and far from being destroyed Hezbollah is proving more than a match for the Israeli army.

This is something totally new, no Arab army able to withstand Israeli might for so long. While the Arab street has been electrified, Arab leaders, clients of the United States, look on despondently. For nothing has made them look more impotent. Even in that citadel of silence, Saudi Arabia, there have been small demonstrations in support of Hezbollah.

On Wednesday the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, in a stern TV broadcast (shades of Churchill?) said that Hezbollah had been crippled. The same day Hezbollah fired more than 200 rockets into Israel, the highest number since this war began, giving a new meaning to the idea of crippling.

Hezbollah knows how to fight. Even though the Israeli army, desperate to salvage something from this conflict, has launched a massive assault across the Lebanese border, and its air force is carrying out round-the-clock bombings, Hezbollah is standing its ground. No Arab army has successfully done this except once before when Hezbollah forced the Israeli army to withdraw from South Lebanon in 2000, and now again when Hezbollah is giving the Israeli army its toughest time since the founding of the state of Israel. And this is a guerrilla organization whose hardcore fighting strength is no more than 5-6000.

There is talk of the Israeli army wanting to advance up to the Litani River. Nothing would suit Hezbollah better because the more the Israeli army is extended the more vulnerable it becomes to Hezbollah guerrilla attacks.

And so, not surprisingly, we are seeing subtle changes of mood and atmosphere. Even the tenor of western reporting is beginning to change. Until a few days ago BBC and CNN were sounding no better than mouthpieces of the Israeli foreign ministry (not to mention Fox News which always sounds like the mouthpiece of the Israeli army.) They were simply unwatchable. Now when Israeli claims and propaganda are measured against the actual performance of the Israeli army on the ground, we can detect the first stirrings of scepticism.

In the Security Council we are now hearing the first reports of progress towards some kind of a ceasefire resolution. The US and Israel wanted it differently: the smashing of Hezbollah before any ceasefire was put in place. But with Hezbollah refusing to crack and international condemnation of Israeli atrocities growing, even the US is being compelled to modify its position.

Even that most hardline of neocon nuts, the US’s UN ambassador John Bolton, has had to soften his utterances about Hezbollah. (On Wednesday, the BBC’s UN correspondent could scarcely hide his astonishment when he was reporting Bolton’s “almost emollient” remarks about Hezbollah. For someone like Bolton this is little short of heresy.)

All this is part of something larger happening across the broad sweep of the Muslim world. I can do no better than quote Robert Fisk, widely respected across the region for his outstanding reporting:

“You heard Sharon, before he suffered his massive stroke, he used this phrase in the Knesset, you know, ‘The Palestinians must feel pain.’ This was during one of the intifadas.

“The idea that if you continue to beat and beat and beat the Arabs, they will submit, that eventually they’ll go on their knees and give you what you want. And this is totally, utterly self-delusional, because it doesn’t apply anymore. It used to apply 30 years ago, when I first arrived in the Middle East. If the Israelis crossed the Lebanese border, the Palestinians jumped in their cars and drove to Beirut and went to the cinema. Now when the Israelis cross the Lebanese border, the Hezbollah jump in their cars in Beirut and race to the south to join battle with them.

“...the key thing now is that Arabs are not afraid any more. Their leaders are afraid, the Mubaraks of this world, the president of Egypt, King Abdullah II of Jordan. They’re afraid. They shake and tremble in their golden mosques, because they were supported by us. But the people are no longer afraid. Whether this is because they’ve grown tired of being afraid — you know, they say once you lose your fear you cannot be re-injected with fear, you can’t start being frightened again — or whether it’s because our western forces are now at war with Islamists, not with nationalists.”

Mark this distinction. Nationalist and secular forces, including the PLO, have been discredited. They were not up to the task before them. They became corrupt and soft. And so their place was taken by Islamist forces which are now the only elements in the entire Muslim world struggling against Israel and the US (two sides, sadly, of the same coin).

Islamists are battling Israel in Gaza, Islamists engaging Israel in Lebanon, Islamists fighting the US occupation in Iraq, Islamists battling the American-propped Karzai puppet government in Afghanistan, Islamist guerrillas fighting the Pakistan army to a standstill in North and South Waziristan and an Islamist regime in Iran standing up to the US and providing support to Hamas and Hezbollah. Syria which is secular alone bucks this trend. But even Syria finds itself in alliance with Islamist forces.

So note the spreading arc of turbulence: from the shores of the Mediterranean to the borders of Pakistan this entire region in ferment, the arrogance and stupidity of American policy fanning the flames of unrest and revolt.

Hezbollah already is a symbol of defiance far beyond the confines of Lebanon, its leader, Sheikh Hasan Nasrallah, arguably the most popular figure in the Islamic world today. So what will the Israeli aggression against Lebanon, and American policy supporting it, achieve? Hezbollah will still be around. But with the one big difference that more youngmen and women will be ready to join the Islamist cause, more people holding up Hasan Nasrallah as an icon of resistance.

Personally I find myself in a strange position. I am as secular in my thinking, if not more than most other people. I was born a Muslim but as is not uncommon in any religion, I count myself among those who have never been very particular about observing the rituals of the faith. Indeed, some of my personal habits are such as not to accord with anyone’s definition of correct Muslim behaviour. I also don’t like the intrusion of religion into politics and find the average maulvi’s ready stock of pomposity and hypocrisy amusing.

My secularism, however, collides with an unpleasant reality: the picture of the Islamic world in thrall to American power, Muslim elites dancing to America’s tune, Muslim countries little better than satellites orbiting around the US. I see this in my own country where there is too much American influence, much of it of the wrong kind. If the Muslim world is to progress, this bondage has to be broken.

Even democracy won’t come to the Muslim world unless this influence is overthrown. It’s one of the biggest myths of our time that America wants democracy to flourish in the lands of Islam. How can it when democracy doesn’t suit its interests? If we have popular governments in Muslim countries the first thing they will demand is an end to American hegemony.

The Americans were happy with the Shah, they can’t abide democratic Iran. They can’t abide Hamas which is the elected representative of the Palestinian people. They can’t abide Hezbollah which has a representative status in Lebanese politics. Democracy in the Muslim world and the interests of American foreign policy just do not mix. That is why any kind of popular movement in the Muslim world finds itself on a collision course with US interests.

Now if we take it as correct that American domination of the Islamic world is not a good thing and deserves to be resisted, it becomes hard for so-called secularists like myself to close their eyes to the uncomfortable fact that the only forces resisting this domination, often successfully, are those which, in some form or the other, draw their inspiration from Islam.

Savour then the irony of it. The “war on terror” was meant to fight and contain radical Islam. Instead, the Bush administration has turned out to be its biggest supporter, through its arrogance, lies and blind support of Israel giving radical Islam an impetus it could never have hoped to achieve on its own.

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"THE Lebanese prime minister was forced to cry before media because of weak defence capability of his country and no such thing would be allowed to happen with Pakistan." This piece of wisdom comes from Pakistan's air force chief, Air Chief Marshal Tanvir Mehmood Ahmed.

As silly statements go, it takes the prize.

Despite its huge army, Pakistan has shown itself incapable of fighting a war for longer than 15 days. Barely halfway through the 1965 war Pakistan's straw field marshal, Ayub Khan, had had enough. He was desperate for a ceasefire. In 1971Gen Yahya and his generals fought a 17-day war and managed to lose half the country.

In 1999 the architects of Kargil -- as choice a bunch of military geniuses as any produced by the Pakistan army -- thought they were walking in the footsteps of Rommel and Manstein. They soon realized they had bitten off more than they could chew. Desperate for a way out, they urged then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to rush to Washington to seek a face-saving withdrawal.

Given these shining military exploits it ill-behoves a Pakistani military man to speak disparagingly about Lebanon when Lebanon -- a country scarcely bigger than Sargodha and Rawalpindi divisions combined -- has shown more guts than we can imagine.

Hezbollah has no F-16s, no anti-aircraft defences to speak of, yet it has fought the might of the Israeli army for four weeks and continues to stand up to it. No Arab army has shown as much grit, none has fought Israel this long. And far from Hezbollah breaking, it is Israel which is getting stuck in South Lebanon.

An air force chief is a responsible person. He should choose his words more carefully. Pakistan has not had the courage or decency to condemn Israel in forthright terms, our government mumbling things no one can understand and adopting a position no one can see. When we can't do the honourable thing, why say things which make us look stupid?

Pakistan has acquired international fame for being a one-phone-call country, a single Colin Powell call after Sep 11 eliciting all the concessions the US wanted, including the use of military bases. Our military government felt no qualms about handing over the Taliban's accredited ambassador to Islamabad, Mullah Zaeef, to the Americans when they attacked Afghanistan.

Zaeef may have been Hitler's ambassador but he was accredited to us and we were sworn under international law to protect him. We didn't. What moral authority do we have to speak about the troubles of another country?

Addressing Arab League foreign ministers in Beirut, the Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora was overcome by emotion when speaking of Israel's aggression against his country. When was the last time a Pakistani leader was overcome by similar emotion?

We are a country at peace with Afghanistan one day and then, at the crack of a whip from Washington, involved in its destruction the next, glorifying Kashmir's freedom struggle and then overnight dancing to India's tune. India has turned the composite dialogue into a joke and yet by every word and gesture at our command we are trying to please India.

To get an idea of the battle picture in South Lebanon turn not to BBC or CNN, both little better than apologists for the Israeli army. Read the Israeli press, especially Haaretz (www.haaretz.com). More and more Israelis while still in favour of the war are questioning the way it is being conducted. The swift victory they were led to believe in has turned out to be a mirage. The Israeli army has taken heavy casualties and Hezbollah is still raining rockets on northern Israel.

As a sign of how the war is faring, Maj Gen Udi Adam, GOC Northern Command, has been replaced by Maj Gen Moshe Kaplinsky. The security cabinet has decided, after an agonizing debate, to expand the offensive in South Lebanon. Sounds suspiciously like a reinforcing of failure.

Fifteen IDF soldiers were killed on Wednesday, … "in a series of firefights across the front…" as Haaretz reports. "Twentyfive soldiers were wounded in Wednesday's actions, six seriously."

Here's another excerpt: "At around 1:40 P.M., an IDF Merkava tank was struck by an explosive device in the village of Aita al-Shaab in the western sector. The tank's four crew members were killed instantly…The kind of damage sustained by the tank (its turret was blown off) appears to indicate that the vehicle was hit by a large explosive device, but a senior Northern Command officer told Haaretz on Wednesday night that it was more likely that the Merkava had been hit by an anti-tank missile.

"Efforts to extract the tank and four dead crew members took place under heavy fire, and continued late into Wednesday night.

"The day's harshest incident occured at 2:00 P.M. when one or two anti-tank missiles were fired at an IDF force that had occupied a house in Debel. The missile strike left nine soldiers dead, including two who died on their way to the hospital, and 11 wounded, including three seriously…

"Rescue efforts again were severely hampered by intense Hezbollah gunfire."

And then tellingly: "Commanders in the sector said Wednesday night that Hezbollah guerrillas were closely following the movement of Israeli forces. They said the group is analyzing the IDF's firing positions, and doing a good job of pinpointing those locations where the forces are exposed."

This should give a flavour of the fighting. Israel has not faced anything of the kind in its entire history. Regular Arab armies it has beaten black and blue, brought Arab countries to their knees after a few days of fighting. This is different because Israel is being compelled to fight a war whose tactics are being dictated by the enemy -- Hezbollah. Israel can push in as many troops as it likes. It will face more guerrilla attacks.

This looks like the emergence of the Middle East's second Vietnam, the first being Iraq. The Americans thought their occupation of Iraq would be a smooth affair. They now know better. The Israelis thought they would vanquish Hezbollah swiftly. There have been surprises in store for them.

Only the gullible think that the kidnapping of the two Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah is what triggered this war. There is a growing body of evidence to show that Israel had planned this assault for a long time. That it hasn't turned out the way it figured is a different matter.

What we don't know is what the Bush administration is up to. For all we know it could be preparing to bomb Iran. Mind-boggling thought but the war party in Washington is capable of anything.

But enough to drive one to despair is the utter helplessness of the Muslim world. A rabbit wouldn't be more transfixed by the headlights of a car as Arab and Muslim leaders are by the threat of American power. No one is saying they should send their armies in aid of Hezbollah. But at least they can speak out louder than they have so far.

Time was when Zulfikar Ali Bhutto sent Pakistani fighter pilots to Syria during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war ( a mistake I can't imagine Air Chief Marshal Tanvir making in a hurry), something which the Syrians have not forgotten. Now we can't even bring ourselves to say the right words about Lebanon. These are not proud days to be a Pakistani.

Hezbollah has no F-16s but it is running rings around one of the best armies in the world. We can have 500 F-16s in our air force but given the crisis of resolve we face, we will remain a country ready to jump at the sound of a single phone call.

Edited by Abuzar
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You guys should just learn how to turn the other cheek, we've been doing this for years and look how far we've gotten :angel:

Oh please! No christian authority ever turns the other cheek, except maybe when a priest decides to molest a child then they turn the other cheek for him. Don't take cheap shots please, go back to making audio interviews about your friend sajjad sohail.

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Faith knows no religious boundaries

By Ayaz Amir

WITH its victory over Israel — a sampling of the Israeli press providing ample acknowledgement of this victory and ample evidence of the gloom into which Israel has been plunged — Hezbollah and its leader, Hasan Nasrallah, now take their place among the immortals.

To go no further back than the 20th century, Hezbollah now takes its place with — to name but a few — the defenders of Gallipoli, Stalingrad and Leningrad; the German army while retreating from Russia (even in retreat the Germans fought superbly), the People’s Liberation Army during the Long March, Fidel’s guerrillas during the Cuban revolution, the Vietcong and Vietminh during the war against the United States and the Israeli army in the 1967 war when it brought the armies of Egypt, Jordan and Syria to their knees in six days.

It must have felt great to be an Israeli in 1967. That war changed, it almost seemed eternally, the strategic calculus in the Middle East. After the second Lebanese war, Hezbollah can lay claim to changing the strategic equation. The myth of Israeli invincibility lies shattered while American arrogance and folly have been dealt a severe blow. American influence in the region stands degraded.

The god of war, as we have already noted, makes no distinction between different faiths. Enough for him if commitment to one’s cause is sincere and wholehearted. And it helps if the cause is also just. “Brute force bereft of reason,” as Horace warned long ago, “falls by its own weight. Power with counsel temper’d even the gods make greater. But might which in its soul is bent on all impiety, they hate.”

Throughout history, this has been the winning formula: force tied to reason and justice, and, of course, tenacity, imagination and boldness. L’audace: fortune favours the audacious.

In the last hundred years the Muslim world has produced only two outstanding politico-military figures: Mustafa Kemal and Hasan Nasrallah, the one almost irreligious, the other steeped in the spirit of Islam. (Although it is another matter that Turkey today enjoys extremely close relations with Israel, an aspect of Turkish policy incomprehensible to most Muslims.)

In short, to each his/her own faith. The only condition is it must be made of the purest material.

Christians who have fought some of the most terrible wars in history — the two world wars being largely intra-Christian conflicts — of necessity cast their faith in Christian terms just as the Samurai does it his own way and the Vietcong rode on the wings of nationalism when they took on the might of the US.

It is therefore only natural for a Muslim to express his/her faith in Islamic terms. The very first thing whispered into the ear of the new-born Muslim child, whether in a religious household or one where religious rituals are not all that strictly observed, is the sound of the azaan, the call to prayer.

Just as the names of the apostles have a special significance for Christians, the names, say, of Omar and Ali, caliphs of Islam, are wired in a special way into the consciousness of a Muslim. When we are in pain we invoke Allah’s name, even those of us otherwise not much given to religious observance.

Hasan Nasrallah’s speeches are peppered with religious references. He invokes God’s help all the time. Hezbollah, however, is not a religious sect. It is a political organisation the central tenets of whose ideology are intensely and purely political. What does Hezbollah seek? Social justice for the people of Lebanon — which means schools, hospitals and the right to a decent life — and freedom from foreign domination, in this case Israeli and American domination.

It does not seek the establishment of a theocratic state, which is one reason why its support amongst the Lebanese population transcends and goes far beyond the bounds of the Shia community.

Robert Pape, author of a well-received book on “terrorism”, says in the Guardian, “Contrary to conventional wisdom, Hezbollah is principally neither a political party nor an Islamist militia. It is a broad movement that evolved in reaction to Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in June 1982. At first, it consisted of a small number of Shias supported by Iran. But as more and more Lebanese came to resent Israel’s occupation, Hezbollah, never tight-knit, expanded into an umbrella organisation that tacitly coordinated the resistance operations of a loose collection of groups with a variety of religious and secular aims.”

Hezbollah conducted a campaign of suicide bombings against American, French and Israeli targets from 1982 to 1986, including the famous bombing which killed about 280 American Marines and got the Americans scurrying out of Lebanon. There were 41 such bombings in all. Researching for his book, Pape says he was shocked to find that “only eight (of the bombers) were Islamic fundamentalists; 27 were from leftist political groups such as the Lebanese Communist Party and the Arab Socialist Union; three were Christians, including a woman secondary school teacher with a college degree. All were born in Lebanon.”

“What these suicide attackers — and their heirs today — shared,” he concludes, “was not a religious or political ideology but simply a commitment to resisting a foreign occupation.” (I have said above that Hezbollah’s ideology is intensely political. In my view, which could be mistaken, resisting foreign occupation is a political aim. In any event, I was trying to draw a distinction between the religious and the political.)

But the justness of a cause means nothing if not accompanied by dedication and commitment. I may be the world’s greatest idealist but of no use to anyone if incapable of action; or if I am guilty of double standards, holding up one yardstick for myself and a different one for others.

About the dedication of Hezbollah’s leadership, suffice it to say that Hasan Nasrallah’s own son died fighting the Israeli army in Lebanon in 1997. An exchange of bodies took place a year later. The late Eqbal Ahmed (who also wrote for this paper) wrote this for the Al-Ahram weekly at the time:

“Sayed Hassan Nasrallah entered the hall in solemn dignity accompanied by Jawad, his teenage son. He stopped before each coffin and offered the Fatiha (the Muslim equivalent of the Lord’s Prayer) until he reached the one marked 13. He beckoned to an aide and spoke to him in a whisper. The aide summoned two workers of the Islamic Health Association, a Hezbollah outfit. They opened the coffin exposing a body wrapped in a white shroud. Sheikh Nasrallah’s eyes closed, his lips trembled as he offered the Fatiha. Slowly, he bent over and tenderly stroked the head of Hadi Nasrallah, his eldest son who was 18 when he died in battle on 13 September (1997). Jawad, the younger son, stood still and pale next to his father. A deep silence fell on the room while (Hasan Nasrallah’s) right hand rested on his son’s chest.”

Is such a leadership easy to defeat? When Israel attacked Lebanon on July 12, Israeli defence minister Amir Peretz said that Hasan Nasrallah would never be able to forget the name of Amir Peretz. More likely it is Peretz who won’t forget Hasan Nasrallah’s name.

Islam has many faces in the world today: the face of compromise, defeatism and collaboration, the Islam of the Excellencies who preside over the destinies of the Muslim world, autocrats at home and American satellites abroad. The Muslim masses have had enough of these cardboard figures. There is then the Islam of Hasan Nasrallah and Hezbollah, the Islam that stands for justice and resistance.

This is not ‘radical’ Islam. When the US is uncomfortable with anything or when something runs counter to its interests, it uses the word ‘radical’ — and now increasingly ‘terrorist’ — to denounce it. This is the true Islam.

Its constituent elements are simple: democracy, that is rule by the people, not by hereditary emir or power-grabbing general; social justice or egalitarianism which means schools, hospitals and equal opportunities for all; and resistance against American domination, either direct as in Iraq or indirect through America’s surrogate, Israel.

This is the true path and Hezbollah has held up the torch to it. Not for a long time has the Islamic world been stirred by such profound feelings.

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Nasrallah has been often compared, especially now, with Late-Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. In Cairo, demonstrations were held and the people chanted "Tell Nasrallah we are all Hizb'Allah" many protesters had pictures of Nasser and Nasrallah. They are a lot a like, both are noble men who see a better future than the current one and who wish to unify much of the Middle East together against Imperialism. However, Nasser was never able to defeat the Zionists the way Nasrallah has and I truly believe where Nasser failed, Nasrallah will succeed.

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