What Was Hezbollah Thinking?

Did you hear? According to a top notch Bulgarian investigative panel, we are now resisting Israel -all the way in Bulgaria.
It doesn’t make sense to you? No worries, it’s not supposed to. It’s only supposed to make sense to Hezbollah and apparently it does.

Long gone are the days when we await Israeli confrontation in order for our men to bravely fight for our land and lose their lives in the process. Long gone are the days when resisting Israel happens from our own land, the South, which pays heavily every single time we resist.

Today, the only question I can ask is: what the hell was Hezbollah thinking?

Whenever my country enters into a war with Israel, I will stand by my people and my land no matter what. Whether they are right or wrong, whether they started it or not – for the entire duration of the war, I will stand by them. When the war is over though, another story unfolds.

I cannot, however, as a Lebanese support the blowing up of the Bulgaria bus incident no matter what possible explanation is provided for the operation .

Where does Hezbollah want to take the country with this action?
Do they really think the country can handle have one of the main parties in the government to be labeled as a terrorist organization by the European Union?
What repercussions will that have on our fragile political balance, on our economy? How does it reflect on the government that Hezbollah did the operation while in power without anyone else in the government knowing about it, similarly to the 2006 war?

7 years have not taught us anything.

Why did Hezbollah want to kill a bunch of Israeli tourists? Is us resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestine now contingent upon us killing as many civilians as possible? What’s the fault of a tourist for being the citizen of a country we don’t approve of? How does us killing civilians differ us from all those terrorist groups whose goal in life is to cause as many innocent casualties as possible?

I don’t think Hezbollah is a terrorist organization. I do not agree with many of their practices but when it matters the most, I cannot but be grateful for defending my country.
But our support as Lebanese for reckless practices should not be unconditional especially when the repercussions of such actions do not reflect on Hezbollah alone but on the entire country as well.

Imagine the following scenario: Lebanese friends from different sects and regions decide to hop on a plane to Paris. While touring the city in a bus, the bus blows up and they all die. The Mossad is to blame.
Far-fetched, perhaps. But do we really want to take the war with Israel to people whose only fault is being a national of one side of the conflict?

What the hell was Hezbollah thinking? I, for one, can’t come up with convincing answers because I really can’t think how this is any good for them in any way. And if they can actually reach other countries and act this powerfully, which I can’t really wrap my head around, why don’t they do things that are more “useful?”

What I hope for though is for the party to come up with proof that the entire investigation was a politicized fabrication especially with the very fast condemnations from Israelis and Americans. Unlikely and foolish, perhaps, but I’m hopeful that one of my country’s main parties is not that short-sighted to land themselves as a terrorist group all around the world.

23 thoughts on “What Was Hezbollah Thinking?

  1. I doubt they have been a lot of thinking lately but I agree with the premise. I stand with them when they defend us but this is not something that I can support but I don’t think they did it.


    • I don’t support it either. These people are civilians – since when do we target civilians just for the “fun” of it. And that’s the question really: can we trust the investigation?


  2. Elie, you say you support Hezbollah when Israel invades you or declares war, and I understand that. But I don’t really get the “surprised” tone of this article. The distinction beween Hezbollah’s action in Bulgaria and some of its actions in Israel are purely geographical. I am not talking about Hezbollah fighting the IDF (justified if the government sanctions it or if Israel invades) but rather its habit to lob rockets on villages of neglegible militarly value.

    If all is true it shows Hezbollah has no problem attacking civilian sites (not exclusively Israelis) in NATO countries. Your prime minister was quick to offer his cooperation, but quite frankly that’s just not sufficient. For all I care Miqati doesn’t even have the power to control his own bedroom but he will need to apologize for this.

    I don’t think the entire EU will label Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Only we do and the British do so for the military wing: the British may be under US pressure and our previous government was simply largely pro-Israel. I don’t see France ever doing this because they don’t want to lose influence. I believe Germany is moving in the direction of designating Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Even so I guess most will wait and see the outcome of the upcoming elections in Lebanon. To me Hezbollah sure deserves the label if (European) civilians are acceptable collateral damage to them. An argument against this due to a legacy of resistance is of no relevance to me when it comes to a Lebanese organization planting bombs in Europe. I’d like you to tell me the difference, both operationally and ideologically, between actions used by groups like the PKK/ETA/IRA versus Hezbollah. Why does Hezbollah deserve a different label only because they resisted the Israelis, of whom half of Lebanon was buying arms a few years before Hezbollah got big?


    • That said I don’t think we (the EU) should place Hezbollah on the terrorist list collectively. It will only be counterproductive at this point. It’ll be one of those cases where you try to isolate someone and they end up being even more fierce and fanatical. It would also do no justice to the historical reasons behind Hezbollah’s power and the civil society aspect of the party. It is surely in our interest that Hezbollah – and Iran – lose influence. I’m afraid if we label it a terrorist organization we’ll just cut any existing communication levels and whatever influence we may have over there.

      But operationally speaking, it has all the characteristics to be on the list.


      • I don’t think anything the EU does will affect the party as much as it affects my country. Hezbollah’s support doesn’t come from France – it comes from a country that goes slightly more to the East.

        The thing to decrease Hezbollah’s influence the most would be a change in regime in Syria which doesn’t look like it’s happening anytime soon.


      • Hezbollah’s support doesn’t come from France, but France has a different relationship and history with Lebanon than any other country in Europe. Also, when France is completely against a certain proposal in the EU it probably will not happen. My country probably has zero influence on Lebanon and vice versa. France may not be pulling the string in Lebanon anymore but my point is that if all of us designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization we may cut certain means of communication, confrontation isn’t always the best method. You’re right about Syria, nothing we can do there, all my country did is deploy some patriot missile batteries in Turkey to prevent the Syrians from doing anything funny. Just like we did in Israel during Saddam’s SCUD rain.


        • I think you’re over-estimating the French influence in Lebanon today. Yeah, the relations between countries are definitely leagues better and more complex than the relation between Lebanon and any other European country but France has been adopting a more reclusive approach to the region with them giving the bare minimum of interference.
          My point was that Hezbollah’s communication and power doesn’t stem the least from France or Europe. It comes from both Syria and Iran. And with Iran being under the severe sanctions it’s under and Syria being subject to a civil war and Hezbollah’s power not waning, I don’t see how a terrorist designation will affect it as much as the entire country.

          My country has adopted a no-interference policy when it comes to Syria. Our government is full of pro-regime people while the opposition is squarely pro-revolution. You can see where that becomes messed up.


      • Daniel: Thankyou for representing a western perspective; your comments add greatly to the discussion. “…and the British do so for the military wing: the British may be under US pressure and…”–OR it sometimes can be the other way around (esp. since the World Wars Europe dragged us into); have you heard of Carrol Quigley? If not, and you have the time/interest, check out “Tragedy & Hope”…off topic, but good stuff.

        Elie: Thankyou for your blog…don’t always agree w/your analysis, but your openness and frankness are uplifting. In an overwhelmingly saturated blogosphere, your personality keeps us coming back. 🙂


    • Look at it this way then: During the 2006 war, about 1500 casualties fell on the Lebanese side, a 1/3 of which were women and children. Weren’t the Israeli warplans bombing everything in their path as well?
      The bridge next to where I live, ports in some areas of non-hezbollah influence, stand witnesses to that.
      So when you say Hezbollah fired rockets at useless towns, know that it was purely reciprocal.

      If all of this is true, I can fathom the EU designating Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. It is their right after all and I can’t tell them not to do so just because they are my countrymen. My last point, however, was entirely speculative of the worth of this “investigation.” How credible is it when the moment the explosion happened, Israel rushed to accuse Hezbollah of it?

      I’m not saying the investigation is wrong. It could very well be more than excellent, flawless and absolutely impeccable logically. But some things do not fit.

      Also Hezbollah is a smart party, whether we like to admit it or not. Its only miscalculation in the past years is to underestimate the Israeli response in 2006 and quite frankly, I don’t think anyone expected Israel to have been preparing for a full-fledged war in order to try to annihilate the party and they failed miserably.

      The actions of Hezbollah are different from the organizations you mentioned, at least when it comes to the Lebanon-Israeli conflict that’s happening geographically here, is in the fact that we are in a state of war and our national army cannot be the one to protect us at the time being.
      This is a gross over-simplification obviously but going into this issue leads to a byzantine debate which will know no end.

      The presumed actions of Hezbollah in Bulgaria, of which the Lebanese government has yet to take a stance as far as I know, do not fall under the above classification.

      I also don’t think our elections have a bearing on the issue – they are either a terrorist group or not. Them winning or losing in June (or whenever) has nothing to do with the designation.


      • Like I said I understand it when Hezbollah fights the IDF when Lebanon is attacked. The rest is just pot calling the kettle black. I don’t approve of any Israeli war crimes and similarily I don’t approve of any Hezbollah attacks on civilians, the statistics don’t show me who’s better. By the way anything Lebanon does to Israel and Israel does to Lebanon and is covered by the Geneva conventions is legitimate as far as I know. Lebanon either attempted to destroy Israel with the Arabs or was too afraid not to stay neutral and therefore launched a very unsuccessful token war in 48, any resulting violence is the result of Lebanese-Israeli unwillingness or inability to make peace. Israel breaks UN resolutions if it violates your territory and your country does as long as Hezbollah carries arms or (worse) arms itself. If that bridge is used by the Lebanese army in wartime it’s a target, any place where a ship can bring weapons ashore, it’s a target. By the way I am not saying the bridge is a legitimate target my previous sentence was purely hypothetical. Hezbollah has become an integral part of the Lebanese government and its security system. Do you expect such wars to limit itself to places where most people are with Hezbollah? I hope I don’t sound too clinical I really want to see peace.

        Israel will always rush to accuse Hezbollah. They’ll like to point fingers and say “see we said those are the bad guys”.

        Hezbollah may be smart, but it also likes to hurt Israelis just like Israelis like to hurt them. As far as I am concerned Hezbollah doesn’t have a clean record when it comes to foreign affairs, especially if all of this turns out to be true. Maybe in a few years we’ll say Hezbollah’s biggest mistake was standing behind Assad…

        If Hezbollah turns out to be guilty, which I doubt they will ever admit, they are no different from those organizations on the operational level. It was an act of terrorism. Incidentally, in Spain the political group behind ETA was banned from political participation because of such actions, but then again they never had the power to take over half of Madrid in a few hours.

        I disagree with your last sentence. Of course the elections matter. If Hezbollah & Co win again we (Europe) will have to deal with them again. It’s not very convenient to deal with a government which you partly labeled as a terrorist organization. It wouldn’t change much for me as trade relations between us are miniscule, but I’d still rather be friends 🙂


        • I mentioned Israeli war crimes to illustrate that this isn’t just black and white especially if you’re in a country that’s part of the conflict. I’m more than certain the siege that was enforced on the entire country during the July 2006 war was harder for us than it was for the people of Northern Israel who withstood Hezbollah’s rockets. But yeah, this could easily turn into a Byzantine debate. I don’t expect the war to be limited but I do expect not to be chastised for doing my best to retaliate.

          I know Israel will rush to accuse Hezbollah. And Hezbollah just responded that this is some Israeli ploy. It’s always the same thing all over again.

          As I said, I don’t approve of Hezbollah’s policies. I am against them politically and will vote against them in June (if I vote, etc…). I don’t stand with their actions inside my country and so forth. I am especially against their stance with the Syrian regime seeing as I am one of those who believe the Syrian occupation of my country was comparable to the Israeli one. But this isn’t about that – and i think you know more than everyone seeing as I think you read my blog religiously that I have slammed Hezbollah on more than one occasion with their internal affairs.

          The Bulgarian explosion issue, however, transcends mere internal affairs and requires me as a Lebanese first and foremost, my issues with Hezbollah having no bearing, to have a more cautious and engrossing point of view. This might very probably be a ploy to further isolate the party as you said – I guess we have to wait to see what the evidence is and what counter evidence Hezbollah might have.

          If the Bulgarian incidence gets proven, the yes, it it an act of terrorism by all standards. I didn’t say otherwise. What I said is that when Hezbollah defends my country against Israel, it’s not. And that’s what all those countries labeling Hezbollah as a terrorist organization are after.

          Regarding the elections, seeing as Hezbollah didn’t even win in 2009 and still ended up in power, it goes to show you how fragile electoral results are here. Regardless of who wins, especially if it’s the anti-Hezbollah camp, Hezbollah will end up having some power in the government. I don’t see anyone excluding them as they did to the current opposition.

          I am all for exclusion of whoever loses.


      • I don’t really have much more to add, but thanks for your response. And yeah I do read your blog a lot. Your blog is actually one of the few blogs I bother to click on as a scroll through my RSS feeds, something I do a lot more than I should. 🙂


  3. When a non-governmental organization develops military capabilities and goes to war in the name of its own country, while attacking civilians with the express purpose of harming as many civilians as possible, it is a terrorist organization. I understand your reluctance to accept the label. It is difficult to accept that one’s own countrymen are terrorists, but this is how it is.
    The Mossad would never blow up a bus of civilians, because it is not a terrorist organization, but rather an intelligence organization for a democratic country. Hezbollah, on the other hand is not new at blowing up civilian targets abroad. They have attacked numerous Israeli embassies and Jewish centers all over the world.
    We’ve both mentioned many times how little chance there is of their being peace between Israel and Lebanon in the foreseeable future- well here you have the reason: Hezbollah. An organization that refuses to let the conflict burn itself out, and will do anything in order to keep the “fire” burning, including blowing up buses of Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. If the the Lebanese army had full control of Lebanon, and not as it is today, as you wrote in your last post, there would be no conflict.


    • I find it hard to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization for killing civilians when the side it’s fighting has had no shortage of civilians on our side to kill as well.

      I also think the Mossad might even do worse than what Hezbollah did. That’s how secret intelligence agencies work and it’s not just the Mossad who does so.

      Moreover, the conflict between Lebanon and Israel is not only contingent upon Hezbollah. There are many more factors that come into play in keeping the conflict going and it’s not only because Hezbollah still exists. I’m more than certain that when Hezbollah becomes a political party only, which will happen eventually, Lebanon and Israel will still be at war. They have been at war way before Hezbollah’s inception in 1982.


      • I won’t get into the argument about who has killed more civilian casualties with you. I will say that I know for a fact that Israel makes great efforts to avoid civilian casualties even when it is at war.

        But I would like to ask you, what, in your opinion, is needed for there to be peace between Israel and Lebanon? What are the main issues?


        • Very tough question. We have people who believe that the only way there’d be peace is with Israel ceasing to exist. I don’t agree with that notion because I think it’s delusional. And we have those who would sign a peace treaty right now – I am not one of those as well.
          I think the key towards any development is a political overhaul in both countries. But even that is nowhere near enough to start discussing this. The wound runs too deep for the healing especially on this side.



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