"When you have lost, pretend that you have won and celebrate so pompously that everybody believes you have won." This is what the Hezbollah of Lebanon did after its war with Israel, but this time when they really won in Lebanon, they did not celebrate as much as they did before just to downplay their victory and diminish its impact over Lebanon's politics and convince the Lebanese people that they did not have another hidden agenda for Lebanon. Hezbollah was right in both cases. In the first case, they had to exaggerate about their victory to inject hope and confidence in their members and the Islamic world. They did the opposite this time when they really crushed their opponents in Beirut in less than two days to prevent scaring the Lebanese Suunis and convince them that everything is okay for their opponents.
The Arabs gracefully accepted terms and conditions of Hezbollah without accepting defeat but every intelligent analyst knows that the Arab league and the opponents of Hezbollah have lost their territories. Now Hezbollah is the main power in Lebanon but what they will do in future? There is no doubt that the leader of Hezbollah is planning his next step for even more expanding its power in Lebanon.
What is the next step for Lebanon? Now that the Hezbollah has consolidated its supremacy and forced its opponents into submission, it is the big time for the next big step to consolidate itself as the main power of Lebanon. The Doha agreement was publicised as a win-win arrangement. The international media assessed it as a victory for Hezbollah. The Arab media downplayed the victory of Hezbollah and portrayed it as if it was in the interest of all Lebanese people and Lebanese opposing groups. The fact of the matter is the opponents of Hezbollah were very happy that it did not capture and execute them during the short Civil War. They were humbled sufficiently to accept what they couldn't accept for nearly two years. They were happy that they were alive and they were happy that Hezbollah was happy to withdraw its troops from their territories.
Hezbollah was smart enough to accept its victory without publicising it as that would have encountered the resistance of the Arab masses. Iran and Syria also did not oppose the agreement as they saw their ally become formally the main powerhouse of Lebanon. The victory of Hezbollah over its opponents was the victory of Iran and Syria over the Arab governments. Now Syria can shift as much arms and ammunitions to Hezbollah headquarters as it wishes without any opposition. Obviously Syria is still at war with Israel and it has Hezbollah and Hamas as its main allies in this long dispute. It is likely for Hezbollah to shift its focus for some time to South Lebanon along the Israeli border to make sure that it deploys sufficient arms, ammunitions, equipments and well-trained soldiers to act if Iran was attacked. Syria will use the South of Lebanon and Hezbollah as a deterrent to prevent an Israeli attack on its soil. Iran will finance the supply and provision of any equipment that may be required to strengthening the position of Hezbollah not only in south Lebanon but in Beirut too.
The victory of Hezbollah over its opponents in Lebanon was in fact a big blow to Israel as it has now a new well-trained and well-equipped enemy near its borders and therefore, any war with Hezbollah will be considered a war of people in Lebanon and it will draw the attention of the international community. Furthermore, Hamas will be given more opportunity for training its members to a high level. The victory of the Hezbollah over its liberal opponents will also inspire Hamas to gain more confidence to insist on its present position of keeping Gazza separate from the rest of Palestinian authority while it can use Hezbollah as a new model and ask Iran to provide it with the same facilities.
The Hezbollah of Lebanon will try to force the Lebanese government to establish close relationship with Syria and Iran, practically alienating Lebanon from the camp that is close to the West. This will give Syria a new opportunity to interfere again in the affairs of Lebanon and help Hezbollah to take new measures for expanding its power. The active participation in the process of decision-making of the government is another significant development for Hezbollah in which it will use its influence to change the direction of the government. Hezbollah will also take the opportunity for installing and establishing new communication systems in the locations which are considered strategic. These communication systems would give it a new advantage to control the work of governmental institutions as well as political figures and its opponents. It will impose new restrictions on its opponents and limits their ability for manoeuvring and secret dealings.
Hezbollah will also establish friendly relationships with Christians to alienate them from the Sunnis. It must be noted that the Shia Hezbollah has no as much contrasts with the Christians as it has with the Sunnis and therefore, when the Suunis are completely neutralised, it will be the turn of the Christians. This is what the Iranians call the creeping coup. The Islamic Republic of Iran mastered this strategy of gradual creeping coup (Align yourself with one and take on another one, one at a time) to remove its opponents one at a time while securing the support of the other one. This is important to remember that Ayatollah Khomeini appointed Bazargan, a semi-secular prime minister, at the beginning of the revolution as he was acceptable as a decent man to the majority of the Iranians. By aligning itself with Bazargan, and armed leftist groups, Khomeini began to massacre his monarchist opponents. As soon as the monarchists were eliminated, Khomeini ousted Bazargan and began eliminating the radical leftists groups by aligning itself with nationalists and liberals. As soon as the leftists were eliminated, Khomeini began to eliminate nationalists and Liberals. This was all gradual. This was all aligning itself with one group and eliminating the other one. Each group was eliminated one at a time. This is an old strategy in war. You can't fight all at the same time. Align yourself with one and eliminate the other one and as soon as the other one is eliminated, find an excuse and eliminate the one that was allied with you.
This will be the strategy of Hezbollah in Lebanon. For successful implementation of this strategy, Hezbollah needs to pretend to establish close relationship with other Lebanese groups to gain their confidence. In fact, it will use a two pronged strategy: lulling Arab emotions and preparing its plan for the gradual takeover of Lebanon.
The greatest concession that the Hezbollah received was its acceptability not only by the Arabs but by the western world. As Hassan Nassrallah, the leader of Hezbollah said in his speech, it is the military power that determines your position in international relations. The international recognition of Hezbollah as a political force will encourage this organization to increase its military power even further to secure even more recognition. Iran has been very effective in lobbying for Hezbollah to gain legitimacy as a resistance force, as resistance in the Arab world is the highest priority. Hezbollah has been also very smart to increase its military force using resistance legitimacy. If the resolutions of United Nations, the power of Arab nations and the pressure of civil societies did not work for establishing a Palestinian state, the military power and smart strategies of Hezbollah will definitely affect the mindset and attitude of Israel in dealing with the Palestinians and Syrians.
The success of Iranian strategy of shifting resistance from Arab governments to the Arab people changed the equilibrium in international scene. While international community supported Israel in its wars against the Arab governments, no one can support it in its war with the Arab people. Now the war with Israel is the war of the Arab people, not the war of the Arab governments. Israel needs to adjust itself completely to the new realities.
While Hezbollah will pursue its clandestine agenda for gradual takeover of Lebanon, Iran will be busy drawing new plans for another country in another part of the Middle East. Iran will give every assurance to Arab countries that it would not further advance in their territories, cooling their nerves but it is unlikely that anybody can believe that. But again, if they do not accept the false assurances of the Islamic Republic of Iran, what options they can have?
Reza Hossein Borr is a leadership consultant and the creator of 150 CDs and 14 Change management models. He is also the author of Manual Success, Manual of Coaching and Mentoring, Motivational Stories that Can Change Your Life, and a New Vision for the Islamic World. He can be contacted by email: email@example.com. His web site is www.rezaaa.com