Watchdog Says Distress Signals From Hezbollah Leadership Betray Sense of Existential Danger
Recent statements by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah about the deep crisis afflicting his organization and the need for a possible mobilization of Hezbollah’s membership reflect an existential danger his organization is facing, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported on Friday.
According to MEMRI, the pressure stems from the ongoing civil war in Syria, and “the heavy losses sustained by Hezbollah in the fighting there and the defeat of the resistance axis in many areas, especially in the north and south of Syria.”
Its difficulties are also the result of a decline in support among Lebanese Shias for Hezbollah, which historically has been the segment of Lebanon’s population that formed the group’s strongest base of support. According to local media reports, Lebanese Shias have begun expressing a lack of confidence in Hezbollah and a reluctance to join its ranks.
In recent statements, Nasrallah appeared to be trying to persuade his coreligionists that the war in Syria is a cause that affects them directly. He claimed that the fight was another way in which Hezbollah has been carrying out its campaign against the organization’s arch-rival, Israel, which Hezbollah accuses of being in league with Sunni Islamists in Syria.
He called on Lebanese Shias to stand by Hezbollah and refrain from criticizing the organization, as well as be ready to make “great sacrifices.”
In a meeting held last week with Hezbollah fighters wounded in combat, Nasrallah told them that “the danger we are facing is an existential one … the situation requires great sacrifice.”
And in a speech he gave the next day commemorating the 15th anniversary of the Israel Defense Forces’ withdrawal from southern Lebanon, he said, “the day may come when we will call for a general mobilization” of Hezbollah’s broader membership. He said the war in Syria “is more extensive, more dangerous, and crueler” than the 1982 Lebanon war with Israel because it has been taking place “right inside our home. Whoever wants to defend [his] existence, survival, honor and homeland must be willing to make sacrifices.”
According to MEMRI, the distress was also evident in Hezbollah’s media affiliates, including the pro-Hezbollah daily Al-Akhbar, whose chairman, Ibrahim Al-Amin, wrote in a recent editorial that those who do not want to face the reality about the war in Syria have aligned themselves with Hezbollah’s enemies.
“These people will pay a heavy price,” he said, and stressed that “anyone who sees himself as part of the [resistance] axis should understand that the battle concerns him directly,” affecting “his environment, family, children, neighbors, job, studies and health.”