Little chance of US negotiating Hizballah disarmament

20 01 2010

The following is an excerpt from my response to a colleague’s email regarding the viability of this Foreign Affairs article:

Interesting article, but there are a lot of problems with it. First, there is no way America would be able to take the lead in negotiations, no matter how covert.  America is to Israel what Iran is to Hizballah in terms of how they view each other. The US’s relationship with Hizballah is completely compromised, and Obama has really done very little to change that.

Also, I disagree that the situation is unstable. It is doubtful that Hizballah will do anything in the near future to incite an attack from Israel, and without such a pretext, Israel cannot just go bomb Lebanon because it feels threatened. Of course, the wild card in the situation is Iran. If Israel does launch a preemptive strike, there is a chance that they could also strike Hizballah too in order to avoid an attack from them. But I also view that situation as highly unlikely, and I have addressed it previously here.

There is an evolution going on with Hizballah. They may be better armed than ever, but as elected representatives, they have a huge responsibility to their constituents and their safety. Kinda like a guy with a garage-fridge full of beer, but only he doesn’t really drink anymore because he’s got a wife and kids. However, he is ready if he has to.

It’s hard to tell what Hizballah really wants, but I think the next long term step in their “plan” is to end formal electoral sectarianism. If Lebanon just went to a one man/ one vote system without predetermined positions for the various religions, Hizballah knows that they would have the majority every time. As they move towards this goal- and they have already started to chatter about it- they will become more comfortable with the idea of disarming.

On the other hand though, one of their pillars or main purposes is to resist Israel, and I am not sure how disarming fits with that. Another factor is that Syria, whose power is on the rise in Lebanon, would deeply object to any “separate peace” with Israel, which disarming is tantamount to.

The FA article has some interesting comparisons between Hizballah and the IRA, but on the whole I think the idea of the US getting involved is not very viable, and the reasons that I have listed here are only just a few example of why it wouldn’t work.




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