Why Hezbollah Supports Syria’s Secular Assad

A handout picture released by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) shows (L-R) Lebanon’s Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arriving for an official dinner in Damascus late on 25 February 2010. (Photo: AFP SANA – Archive)

By Amal Saad-Ghorayeb. Amal Saad-Ghorayeb is a Lebanese academic and political analyst. As usual the posting of this article does not imply that it 100% reflects the views of The Speed of Dreams.

Although Hezbollah does indeed depend on the Assad regime for its arms’ flow, this consideration alone does not adequately grasp the other motives behind its controversial stance, nor does it sufficiently explain the sturdiness of its alliance with Syria. Reducing Hezbollah’s close alliance with the Assad regime to logistics misses a host of other factors and considerations which sustain the relationship.

Hezbollah’s staunch defense of the Assad regime at the most inopportune of times must be viewed against the backdrop of the regional struggle between the “nationalist and resistance project” led by Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas, otherwise known as the “jabhit al mumana’a” (“resistance axis” as it is dubbed in the West) and the “US project” pursued by the US’ Arab allies who comprise the so-called “moderate axis”. Viewed within this broader regional context, Syria’s strategic value does not merely lie in its arms’ supply role, but derives from its status as the Arab linchpin of the resistance front, or to borrow Nasrallah’s words, “the only resistance regime in the region”.

On balance, “the Syrian leadership can be credited with the preservation and maintenance of the Palestinian cause,” for Hezbollah. So indispensable was the Assad regime to Palestine that Nasrallah boldly declares: “the continuation of this Syrian position” (and by implication, the preservation of the regime), is “the precondition to the continuation of the Palestinian cause.” Accordingly, any threat to the regime’s security and survival is a “danger” not only to Syria, but to Palestine and — considering its role in ending the Lebanese civil war — to Lebanon as well.

The protests in Syria are branded a form of “collusion” with outside powers who seek to replace Assad’s rule with “another regime similar to the moderate Arab regimes that are ready to sign any capitulation agreement with Israel.” Thus, rather than strive to institute reforms or democracy in Syria, Washington’s latest policy essentially aimed at instituting subservience: “if President Bashar al-Asad were to go now to the Americans and surrender, the problem would be resolved.”

Aside from the strategic factors behind Hezbollah’s continued support for the Assad regime, the movement’s position is also grounded in theoretical considerations. Hezbollah’s revolutionary prescriptions rest on two concurrent criteria: first, “this regime’s relationship with and position towards the American-Israeli project in the region” and second, the potential for reforms. The Assad regime’s mumana’ist position and role in the region, coupled with its openness to reform and dialogue means that the Syrian uprising has failed to meet either of these requirements, and hence, Hezbollah cannot “support the downfall of a resistant, mumani’i regime which has begun reforms”.

Hezbollah’s understanding of freedom as a positive freedom to control one’s destiny and to achieve self-determination, both digresses from and surpasses the liberal preoccupation with the negative freedom from external constraints and hindrances. To be free is not to be left alone but to continually struggle for justice. It is for this reason that Hezbollah is inherently antagonistic to liberal uprisings like Syria’s which focus their efforts on freeing themselves from state control at the expense of the struggle against US and Israeli colonialism.

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This article was originally published by the Conflicts Forum

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Posted on July 11, 2012, in Internationalism & Solidarity, Mid-East Struggles, National Liberation and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Why Hezbollah Supports Syria’s Secular Assad.

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