Sunday, December 25, 2005
The article in fact does seem like an attempt to dress up Hezbollah as non-threatening to the United States:
Hizbullah's director of media relations Mohammad Afif Naboulsi firmly denies the alleged links to the militant jihadi network, "We do not have any relation with that group, not in the present nor in the past. They are working toward tearing the Islamic Nation apart, dividing Muslims into numerous sects and mutilating the face of Islam in the world."
Amal Ghorayeb of the Lebanese American University believes any operational cooperation between the two groups is out of the question. "Hizbullah would in no way share Al-Qaeda's goals. The Americans have to understand Al-Qaeda is a threat to American security, Hizbullah is simply a threat to American interests," says Ghorayeb.
An expert and writer on Hizbullah, Ghorayeb says: "Al-Qaeda would never work with Hizbullah; their greatest enemies are the Shiites. There is a very strong cultural and religious animosity on the side of Al-Qaeda."
Last week a Shiite cleric in Lebanon received a death threat from an Al-Qaeda-type Salafi jihadist group confirming this hostility....
According to Dr. Redwan Sayyed, considered Lebanon's foremost expert on Al-Qaeda and a professor of Islamic history at the Lebanese university, Salafi Jihadi ideologues, described as the intellectual voices of Al-Qaeda, view Hizbullah with deep disdain and are threatened by the Shiite group's popularity on the Sunni Arab street.
Contributors to pro Al-Qaeda Web sites such as Global Islamic Media regularly refer to Hizbullah as Hizb al-Shaytan or "party of the devil" and in 2004, a leading scholar of jihadists in Saudi Arabia Abed al-Munim Mustafa Halimah published an article "the Lebanese Hizbullah rejectionist school" condemning Hizbullah for being nationalist, serving local interests and for their relationship with apostate Shiite Iran and the secular Assad regime in Syria....
There is a lot to argue about here -- scroll through the comments at LGF to see lots of links that at least claim ties between Hezbollah and al Qaeda. The article itself mentions -- and discounts -- news accounts that purport to show links between the two terrorist groups. The truth of the assertion, however, is less interesting than the fact that it has been made.
What conclusions can we draw -- or at least propose -- from the fact that Hezbollah has gone out of its way to claim that it wants nothing to do with al Qaeda? Since denouncing al Qaeda is bound to annoy al Qaeda, we can propose that Hezbollah does not fear al Qaeda. That suggests that al Qaeda is in no position to retaliate against Hezbollah's leadership. Also, it implies that al Qaeda is not popular among Hezbollah's core constituency, the Shiites of Lebanon. If it were, why would Hezbollah be so vehement in its rejection of al Qaeda?
Now, one might argue that this story is a shallow attempt to persuade the United States that Hezbollah has nothing to do with our wider war against al Qaeda, even as Hez conspires with the jihadis against the region's "apostate regimes," Israel and the United States. Perhaps, but how likely is it that the United States is going to change its view of Hezbollah on the basis of an op-ed piece in the Daily Star? It is far more likely that Hezbollah is backing away from whatever contacts it may have had with al Qaeda because it is good politics inside Lebanon. If so, then we might take this as a sign that al Qaeda's popularity in the "Arab street" is waning.
As I have written more than once, victory in our war against al Qaeda and its network requires that its ideology and organization be discredited. If Hezbollah believes it is good politics to deny a connection with al Qaeda, that may be a sign that its credibility is fraying around the edges. Yes, Hezbollah is no friend of the United States, but it serves our interests when it denounces al Qaeda to its constituents.
My guess is that Hez is about to do something new and newsworthy, and wants the MSM to put the proper spin on it by creating this "atmosphere" ahead of time, the idea being to forestall U.S. action on the pretext that Hezbollah is an Al Qaeda affiliate.
Most likely candidate: an imminent Hezbollah coup of the Lebanese government. (See Raja.)