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The ‘Arab Spring’ Culminating in a Bloody ‘Sushi’

With Iran and Hezbollah openly supporting the anti-Sunni side in Syria, the battle lines have been redrawn, this time according to ancient and familiar traditions.
Hamas officials in Gaza City last month welcomed Egyptian cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who leads the anti-Hezbollah wave in the Muslim world.

Hamas officials in Gaza City last month welcomed Egyptian cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who leads the anti-Hezbollah wave in the Muslim world.
Photo Credit: Eyad Al Baba / APA images

The vicious war raging in Syria since March 2011 has cost so far at least one hundred thousand fatalities and many thousands of wounded, turned millions of Syrians into refugees, and Hezbollah is totally engaged in fighting this dirty war in support of the Assad regime. Information about the involvement of Hezbollah in the fighting has been leaking out for more than a year. At first, they buried their fallen in temporary graveyards in the Lebanon Valley, near the border with Syria, to avoid holding funerals in residential areas and disclosing Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria. Because of the need for secrecy, the families of the fallen were forbidden to observe rites of mourning and memorial services after the fighters died.

With time, the picture has changed, and Hezbollah can no longer hide its Syrian role. In an effort to shore up his popularity, Nasrallah tried to say that the Hezbollah forces were in Syria only to defend a number of “Lebanese” villages, but some of those who heard this story understood that Hezbollah was actually defending Shi’ite villages from attacks by the Sunni rebels.

This story crumbled when faced with media reports describing Hezbollah as an integral part of the Assad regime fighting effort. For the past year, public criticism of Hezbollah has increased in the Arab world because of its involvement in the murder of Syrians, and matters came to a head about a month ago, with the attack on the town of al-Qusayr, which is located on the border of Syria and Lebanon, and serves as a bridge for the transfer of supplies, weapons, ammunition and fighters from the Sunni area of Tripoli in Lebanon to the rebels in Syria. The rebels took control of al-Qusayr about a year ago, which enabled them to drive a wedge between the area of Damascus, the capital, and the Alawite area in the northwest of the country. From the photographs and the reports of the battle for Qusayr during the past month, it seems that it was Hezbollah and not the Syrian army that was fighting for the town.

This bloody battle was the straw that broke the Sunni camel’s back. Since al-Qusayr has fallen into Hezbollah’s hands, all the dams of criticism have burst, and the religious authorities of Sunni Islam are attacking Hezbollah with their sharpest arrows of Islamic rhetoric, tipped with deadly venom. The expression they use for the name of the organization is “Hizb al-Shitan”—”the party of Satan”—hinting at the passage from the Qur’an: “The party of Satan are the losers” (Sura 58, Verse 19), which is the opposite of the name “Hizb Allah”—”the party of Allah”—which is also based on the Qur’an (Sura 5, Verse 56).

In homilies given in the mosques and in the media, Yusuf al-Qaradawi calls on all Muslims, male and female, to wage jihad against Hezbollah in Syria, and openly accuses Hezbollah and the Iranians of desiring to devour all of the Muslim countries. He accuses them of being infidels and of hiding their true identity.

Qaradawi does not restrain his tongue. He speaks with contempt about the change in the Syrian constitution that allowed Bashar Assad to succeed his father in 2000 when he was 34 years old, despite the fact that, until then, the president was required to be at least 40 years old. He even mentions the original name of the Assad family—”al-wahsh”—which means “wild beast.” Qaradawi calls on all the Islamic sages of the world to gather in Cairo on Thursday, to discuss how to deal with the Shi’ites in general and Iran and Hezbollah in particular, and to issue decisions on the matter. He views the ascent of Sunni Islam to power in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and Yemen as a blessing, in addition to Gaza, which he visited recently.

Qaradawi clearly admits that he erred in 2006 about Hezbollah, and was fooled by its religious appearance. Qaradawi praises the religious sages of Saudi Arabia who even then, in the days of the Second Lebanon War, were right about Hezbollah and did not fall into the trap that Nasrallah had set for the Arab and Islamic world. He asked forgiveness from those sages for supporting Hezbollah against their judgment.

About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.


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4 Responses to “The ‘Arab Spring’ Culminating in a Bloody ‘Sushi’”

  1. Good for Israel, this "sushi" will take many years, like it was between christians, christians-muslems wars.

  2. Ron Kall says:

    That muslims are back to slaughtering each other on a grand scale, is surely a gift from allah!

  3. Anonymous says:

    This is an excellent article by Dr. Mordechai Kedar. This kind of insights are absent from the media in general. It raises the very thorny issue as to a possible intervention of the West, which President Obama is contemplating. On the other hand, Dr. Daniel Pipes is of the opinion that the West should not intervene on either side. This is a typical example when human tragedy is faced with political paralysis.

  4. Rachamim Dwek says:

    I appreciate Dr. Kedar’s view but I believe that he has over-emphasised the Sunni adulation of Hizbollah after the 2006 War. There was no downward spike in Sunni-Shi’a communal violence following the war. Iraq, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia (Dr. Kedar did acknowledge the last) continued their bloodletting unabated.

    As for Lebanon itself, the Sunni have been biding their time eversince they were defeated in their efforts to limit Hizbolli power in the Telecom Showdown. In fact, the brief love affair between Sunni and Shi’ lasted less than 2 months. By September of 2006 Hizbollah and Lebanon’s other Shi’a powerbase, AMAL, began threatening violence against the Sionora Government over the Hariri Investigation. The threats led to the 6 Shi’a Cabinet Ministers resigning that November. This in turn led to Siniora moving against Hizbollah by illegalising the organisation’s parallel fiberoptic telecom network- in effect, a pillar of a burgeoning parallel infrastructure entirely controlled by Hizbollah, in 2008. This of course caused the Sunni-Shia tensions in Lebanon to erupt into a low intencity conflict that narrowly escaped becoming yet another Lebanese Civil War.

    Still, it’s great to see time and attention paid to an important, yet largely unknown facet of Israeli national security.

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