The ‘festivities’ may have already begun as this article is being written, and the Guest of Honor himself is scheduled to appear before his adoring audience and probably deliver one of those stirring speeches that he has become famous (of infamous) for. Yes, Sheikh Said Hassan Narsrallah is back big time, and even more prominent than before.
The Sheik is not only back, but he has even more ‘believers’ than before. Even before the decision was made to hold and large-scale ‘victory rally’ in the same part of Beirut that Israeli planes bombed during July and August, Narsrallah and his Hezbollah organization aimed to show the world in general, and Israel in particular, that they not only came out on the winning end of the 34 day conflict, but that they can even increase their standing to an greater degree than even they thought was possible.
Of course, some damage was inflicted on their infrastructure, and they did loose some of their fighters; including some presently being held by the Israelis as bargaining chips for what they hope will soon be a prisoner exchange for the two Israeli reserve soldiers still being held by the Hezbollah. Narsrallah himself has been ‘underground’ in an undisclosed location since the war began; but may actually be seen strolling in that section of West Beirut that has been Hezbollah’s stronghold for years. In preparation for this event, in which a number of Lebanese dignitaries are also expected to make their appearance alongside the Sheikh, many of his followers, wearing yellow shirts and caps, and carrying Hezbollah flags, went to southern Lebanon and paraded themselves along the border with Israel, shouting slogans, and even throwing rocks at Israeli jeeps and other vehicles patrolling their side of the border.
So, in this sense, it seems that nothing has changed since the hostilities broke out on July 12; and this is despite both the Lebanese Army and a beefed-up U.N. force in position to prevent any outbreaks from occurring. The only problem with all this is that the U.N. forces, even with more military hardware at their disposal, and with orders allowing them to attack the Hezbollah if necessary, don’t appear to be ready to do so. After all, it’s not their war, and these people now parading along the border appear to be a “peaceful political demonstration”.
Demonstration? The exact same thing occurred after Israeli forces pulled out of Lebanon in May, 2000, and led to the attack against an Israeli patrol a few months later with the kidnapping of 3 soldiers â€“ whose remains were only returned to Israel more than three years later.
But insofar as the Lebanese are concerned, many of whose families received 12,000 U.S. Dollars as ’emergency rebuilding funds’ from Hezbollah (and Iranian) coffers following the conflict’s end, and with Hezbollah demolition and construction crews already tearing down an rebuilding damaged buildings, Hezbollah’s party flag couldn’t be higher now. Even Lebanon’s non-Shiite Muslim communities are happy with the Sheikh and his willingness to help his countrymen rebuild.
All of this is going to be a hard act to follow for Israel’s troubled Political leaders, many of whom are being blamed for the results of the war. And coupled with an agonizing slowness of the Israeli government’s assistance for their citizens, who also sustained major damage from Hezbollah rockets, it’s easy to see why the Sheikh will be busy kissing the cheeks of so many adoring fans. Yes, the Sheik is here to stay. But judging from what happened to another popular Shiite spiritual leader, Sheik Ahmed Yassin in Gaza City, Hassan might best keep one eye cocked to the Heavens; as what might come from there may not be Devine Inspiration.