A new force in Libya – Hezbollah’s offer of help

An image grab taken from Libya’s state television shows a sculpture depicting a fist crushing a jet fighter in the grounds of Mummer Gaddafi’s former Bab al-Aziziya residence, in the capital Tripoli, after it was bombed in 1986 by US aircraft.(AFP)

Libya is increasingly more difficult to understand.  The United States entered the fray with rockets and bombers, it also appears that Canada and Britain have sent planes, Italy has said he would.  The Arab League and Russia have condemned the attacks, but Qatar sent planes – the Middle East Online is reporting the United Arab Emirates is also sending planes.  Qatar is particularly interesting – it also sent troops into Bahrain to help the government there put down demonstrations – what exactly is Qatar supporting and what it is opposing?

By now, everyone has read that the U. S. is now fighting on three fronts, Gaddafi has promised to arm every Libyan and fight a very long war and you have probably read the reactions of congress as individual members try to work their way through the maze.  Each wants to support democracy,  but they also want to take the party line for or against war, additional military spending and the role of congress in committing the country to acts of war.   But what you have not read, is what people are thinking in Arab  countries.  And there are some surprises, at least for me.

Hezbollah leader Hassaan Nasrallah, a constant critic of American policy, secular Arab states, Israel and everyone but Hamas and Iran is wadding into the discussion.  Interestingly Nasrallah is on the same side as the UN and the Arab League – he opposes Gaddafi.  However, he does not support the military action by the UN and some Arab states – instead he is offering another way – Hezbollah’s support..  Hezbollah’s support,  although Nasrallah does not say it, would include money and weapons from Iran.  Showing that he is a student of European intervention in the Middle East  he uses the “great game” metaphor that was applied to the contest between Russia and Britain over Iran, Afghanistan and India in the 19th century.  Nasrallah warns the Libyans against accepting western help.  In its place he suggests Hezbollah is an ally without an agenda of control or exploitation, brothers of the same mother and born of the same conflicts.

“The rebels need to be aware that international intervention could embroil Libya in the great game of nations,” Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s Shiite militant group, warned. “We are here to tell them: ‘We are with you, we support you … we are ready to come to your aid in your best interests and ours, to the best of our ability,'” he said.

At first blush it appears that Libya could become another Afghanistan quite easily and quickly with the same forces fighting each – each trying to establish a government that suits their agendas. It is a very fluid situation and it is changing very rapidly.

Across the border in Egypt, a referendum was held on some constitutional issues; the established traditional party of Mubarak and the Muslim Brotherhood supported the proposition as stated – calling for a “yes” vote.  The youth movement from the uprising and the other opposition parties called for a “no” vote.  Yes won by 70 percent – and at least for today no one has suggested, as they did in the past, that the election was unfair or biased in favor of the party in power – today that is the army.  The referendum included a constitutional congress to draft a new Constitution and full elections – soon.  The critics say that is the issue, the organized more traditional parties have an advantage if the election is held soon, they are ready.  While the opposition needs much more time to organize, find candidates and develop a party platforms.

It will be interesting to see what happens in Egypt now, will the protesters accept the results of the election – it was after all the democracy they wanted – or will they continue to protest and demand more changes? Whatever happens, it is clear that Egypt and Libya have very little in common today.  Two months ago they seemed to be dominated by the same kind of leader and the protest movements were following similar paths.  That is no longer true.


2 Responses to “A new force in Libya – Hezbollah’s offer of help”

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  2. 2 Ken Adams November 1, 2011 at 9:24 am

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