Another May 7, 2008 in Lebanon?

The Syrian conflict seems to be nearing a clear end- the collapse of the Assad regime. In Lebanon there is talk that the Hizbullah is looking to reach some compromises with the March 14 coalition. These arrangements are sought to lessen the repercussions of the Syrian developments on the political situation in Lebanon.

There is no doubt that the demise of the Assad regime is the biggest challenge faced by the Hizbullah ever- a bigger challenge than it's war with Amal in the 1980s, any of the Israeli wars fought, or the classification of the group as a terrorist organization.

There is talk that the Hizbullah, in order to force concessions, will resort to another May 7, 2008- type operation. This is the operation were Hizbullah and its supporters used force, mainly against the Sunni-led Future Movement and its supporters, in order to force concessions from the March 14th Movement. The use of force worked- it resulted in the Doha Agreement with a veto power for Hizbullah and its lesser allies. However, it resulted in a deep chasm between the Shia and Sunnis in Lebanon that has only been deepening. It also resulted in a change of perception of the group in the Arab and Muslim world- from that of a resistance group to that of an Iranian proxy- a sectarian group intent on harming Sunnis and their interests.

Lebanon today- December 15, 2012, is not Lebanon on the eve of May 7, 2008. It's a transformed country- and not in a good way. Such a gamble by the Hizbullah and its allies will exact huge costs on the Lebanese. The Hizbullah would not be facing poorly- armed security guards with little to no motivation to fight. It will be facing opponents who have been emboldened by the Syrian conflict and the near demise of the Syrian regime. Hizbullah will be facing a Sunni community who, with marginal exceptions, feels threatened, marginalized and humiliated by the Hizbullah. Most importantly, those in the Sunni community who seem eager for a military confrontation with the Hizbullah, a group they see as nothing more than an Iranian proxy, are the highly religious Sunnis, who would be motivated by a sense of sectarian grievance against the group. They would be led by what MP Jumblatt referred to- those with the closely trimmed mustaches and the long beards. These are fighters who are as motivated or even more motivated than the Hizbullah fighters. It will not be a pretty picture.

A decision by the Hizbullah to use its weapons internally, again, for domestic leverage, to force concessions will have disastrous consequences- primarily for the Hizbullah and its supporters. It is possible that  Hizbullah would attempt that but I think it's unlikely because the group has proved itself to be pragmatic and showed a good understanding of Lebanese politics and reality . But if the unlikely happens it will be one of the worst conflicts seen in Lebanon ever- even by the Civil War's standards.   
The Shia Hizbullah would be fighting the Sunni Hizbullah with both sides deeply confident in the validity of their cause and equally confident that dying for it is good for them in this life and in the afterlife. 


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