Is Hezbollah’s gun diplomacy working?

July 17, 2008

hezbollah.jpgHezbollah literally rolled out the red carpet to welcome home five prisoners released by Israel in a U.N.-mediated exchange deal. Securing the release of the last five Lebanese held by Israel was a major triumph for the group, which in turn handed over the bodies of two Israeli soldiers captured in a 2006 raid into Israel.

Having achieved a long-held goal, Hezbollah is holding up the exchange as further evidence that its uncompromising, armed approach to dealing with Israel brings results, directly challenging the policies of Arab leaders who have engaged in negotiations or signed peace treaties with the Jewish state. The New York Times called the prisoners’ homecoming a triumph.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, visibly delighted by the prisoner release, addressed the issue during a rare public appearance. He saluted “the true identity of the peoples of our region … the identity of resistance”.

Broadcast into homes across the Arab world by satellite stations, Nasrallah’s rhetoric resonates with viewers who have seen few results from years of talks over the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Spoken by a man widely recognised as the Arab world’s most effective orator, the rhetoric is a challenge to states such as Jordan and Egypt. Both are ruled by U.S.-allied governments that have made peace with Israel and are concerned by the rising
influence of Iran, Hezbollah’s main sponsor.

But while Hezbollah’s charismatic leader still wins admiration across the Arab world, his Shi’ite group no longer enjoys the broad respect it once did in fractious Lebanon.

Nearly two years of political conflict with other Lebanese, including the country’s main Sunni leader, have opened deep sectarian wounds. Hezbollah’s brief takeover of Beirut in May increased the concerns of Lebanese critics who were already suspicious of the group’s vast arsenal.

Hezbollah is riding high in its conflict with Israel. It is now seeking reconciliation with Lebanese adversaries to avoid more conflict at home.


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So Israel should bring back the death penalty for terrorists.

Posted by messy | Report as abusive

I watced for 3 days how Reuters and BBc presented this news, i watched mostly the red carpet reaction of Hezbollah!The extrem betwen Israel felleings now and those from the lebanese part!And i don’t know this is a diplomacy triumph or just a long time brake with negociation?!

I would like to think that diplomacy took her coat again and show up there as a true prffesional with all the skills in the world and positive moves for the future of this two countrys!We thank UN again for this!From what i see this organization took a diffrent direction when it comes to the role performance on this stage!
what the people say?!

Posted by Burca Alice Larisa | Report as abusive

War and colonization can only be resisted.

Good for the people of Lebanon to have Hizbollah and there is a great broad, as see in this swap, respect for Hizbollah within all of Lebanon. Hizbollah and allies are the people of Lebanon and they are in the right path to freedom, as is being finally recognized by everyone.

Posted by Mohammed Alqumber | Report as abusive

I do very much agree with Mohammed. At the end Hizbollah seems to succeed in uniting Lebanese people, something the governement struggles with. This is a real interest and will serve all Lebanese.

Posted by Judith Eenenkel | Report as abusive

People are focussing on the wrong issue here. You have to know what is incidental and what is structural. The exchange is a win for the Hezbollah in terms to the state of the goods. But likewise it is a win for Israel in showing the world how much it cares about its people and that they really need the wall to protect them. Hezbollah just gave a chance to Israel to pose as a victime of a bad exchange. This in turn again diverts the international attention from pressing issues like the return of refugees, return of the Golan, the wall, etc. The international coercive power is zero: Israel is off the hook for the four decades, and Iran just started doing the same. He would you chose Likud or Hezbollah, they are all the same religious fanatics that do not turn away from using force to realize their fundamentalist objectives. Do not expect any moral values to count in that region, so think twice when seeing a mother huging a killer, or grieving over an agressive occupators dead body.

Posted by Locus publicus | Report as abusive

I enjoyed readig this article by Tom Perry, it’s very rare to read such objective reporting!

Posted by Roonii | Report as abusive

at least one of the released prisoners murdered a small child & her father in israel/ a hero – indeed !

Posted by arie | Report as abusive

it’s a good deal for both Israel and Hezbollah, but i’m just stunned about the brutality of the murder that Samir Kantar comitted and his, clearly sicko, face expression

Posted by vlad dumitrescu | Report as abusive

Why, Vlad, was it a “good deal” for Israel? It was a trick, a sham, and typical fiendishly sick ploy by the listed terrorist group Hizb’allah.

Posted by Tony | Report as abusive