Post Conflict Perspective on the Shiit Hezbollah

Posted in Broader Middle East | 20-Sep-06 | Author: Manuela Paraipan

Anwar Wazen

Exclusive WSN-interview conducted by Manuela Paraipan with Anwar Wazen

WSN: Anwar what was the Shiia community position in Lebanon before Hezbollah?

Anwar Wazen: The Shia community in Lebanon, after independence from the French mandate, considered themselves second-class citizens. They were represented in the Lebanese political system by two feudal families:

The Assaad family in the south and the Hamade family in the Bekaa valley. When the speaker of the parliament Ahmad el Assaad was asked once why most Shia children were illiterate, his answer was that Kamel was going to school on their behalf — Kamel was his son. As a secular person I do not believe that political power sharing based on belonging to one religious sect or the other is a viable solution in building a state.

Do you think that the Christian villagers of Rmeish, Ain Ebel, Dibel , Marjeyoun, etc. were treated by the Lebanese government better than the Shias of other southern villages? Like the Shias, those Christian villages in the south had no public schools or public clinics or public transport or vital utilities (electricity, water, sewage etc.) The whole region was neglected by the central government.

WSN: What is your opinion on Hezbollah's actions? What is its aim?

Anwar Wazen: Hezbollah's main aim when they were constituted was to extend the Iranian Islamic Republic not only to Lebanon but to the whole Arab world. As a matter of fact Israel helped them at one stage in acquiring arms when they fought the Amal militia.

The Israeli army withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 after negotiating a truce in Germany with Hezbollah representatives. Hezbollah was not organized for the sole purpose of getting Israel out. It was Ehud Barak, Israel's prime minister then, who decided in 2000 to withdraw unilaterally from Lebanon purely for electoral gains.

True, Hezbollah did a lot for the Shias in the South — the Dahyet, Baalbeck and the Bekaa valley. They built a State within a State for them and they are now committing the same mistake that the Christians committed during the civil war; they are organizing a canton which will implode most probably from within like the Christian canton did.