My work in the media made it possible for me to meet with Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah on several occasions. This allowed me to get close to the man and become acquainted with some aspects of his personality.
Regardless of whether we agree or disagree with Nasrallah and his group, there can be no doubt that he possesses a number of attributes that both his friends and enemies can agree on. These attributes are as follows:
1. The man has all the attributes of a charismatic leader.
2. He has a unique logical style in putting forward ideas and giving an account of events, and he certainly has the ability to convince others.
3. The man is socially adept, and enjoys political expertise.
All these attributes means that Nasrallah is no easy prey, and he will try to ensure that Hezbollah, “the party of resistance”, does not go down in the history books as contributing - by word or deed - in quelling a popular uprising against injustice, repression and autocracy in Syria.
This is why I paused thoughtfully last week to meditate on Hezbollah’s statement from Beirut regarding the death of one of the movement’s leaders, known as “Abu Abbas”, who was killed in Homs while “performing his jihadist duty”, according to the statement.
The statement is an explicit admission of the party’s involvement in the military operations and massacres being committed by the Syrian regime’s troops to quell the popular uprising in the country. In fact, this stance and option only serves to harm Hezbollah’s stature and reputation, as well as its standing in Lebanon and Syria, in both the long and short term.
Syria, for Hezbollah, is a strategic necessity and a source of arms, as well as training and logistical supplies. Syria is a strategic bridge between Hezbollah and Tehran, whilst Damascus is also a major political supporter for the group’s activities in Lebanon.
Yet, at some point, Hezbollah must choose between the dictates of reality and the weight of history.
Therefore, I strongly doubt that Hassan Nasrallah can back the Syrian regime politically or militarily. This is because he has the social intelligence and political expertise to be aware that he is betting on a long-shot that will impact negatively on the group’s stature in Lebanon and Syria.
In my view, Nasrallah is acting like someone who is unable to reject or withstand the pressures being mounted on him by Iran and Syria. Even now, Iran continues to gamble on its ally Bashar al-Assad, whilst the Syrian regime continues to seek to recruit and mobilize all forces, supporters and allies for the “life and death” battle it is facing.
In Damascus, there are those who are seeking to expand the battlefield from Syria into Lebanon, from Homs to Tripoli and from Qardaha to Southern Lebanon.
In my view, Bashar al-Assad, his family, sect, supports and party will not be the only ones who will pay the price for the Syrian revolution. I believe that Syria’s agents in Lebanon will also have to pay the price for this as well!
(This article was published on Asharq Alawsat online on Oct. 7, 2012.)