Monday, July 20, 2009

Yakan Dies, Nasrallah Lies, Perhaps Lebanon Cries

By Barry Rubin

Fathi Yakan, Lebanese radical Islamist, has died of natural causes. Hizballah leader Hasan Nasrallah seizes the moment to threaten a new war with Israel. Is this Hizballah’s response to losing the election?

Yakan was a key Sunni Islamist, one of the few allies of Hizballah in that community, and a close collaborator with Syria. But that’s not all the connections he had. According to his own words, Yakan remained close links with al-Qaida, including the Iraqi insurgents who murdered thousands of Iraqi civilians and killed many American soldiers in that country.

He called Usama bin Ladin, “a pure, honest and [pious person]. He defends all that belongs to Islam and who renounces anything that is not Islamic, and therefore, he is a man after my own heart.” Yakan also endorsed the September 11 attacks saying, “The only way to curb the disease that is afflicting the Islamic to crush the serpent's [America’s] head.”

This is the man Nasrallah has memorialized by predicting war is imminent with Israel. And when someone like Nasrallah predicts out of the clear blue sky that Israel is about to attack Lebanon for no real reason, it only means two things: either Nasrallah is about to attack Israel or he needs a war scare to justify trying to seize more power in Lebanon.

Nasrallah claimed that Israel was about to attack in order to destroy the “Resistance,” take over Lebanon, and expel all Palestinians from Israel and Lebanon.

While admitting that his movement and its allies have taken some damage in recent years, Nasrallah also claims that it has survived this difficult period and will continue trying to spread Islamism all over the region, one of many admissions that Hizballah is far from just a group seeking to promote change in Lebanon or to fight Israel.

But there's something else in Nasrallah's threats. He's also saying that if UNIFIL dare interfere with Hizballah, he will make it hurt a lot. In other words, the Hizballah leader isn't afraid to take on the whole world. Why not, since he knows that the UN is afraid of him?

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition) and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to To see his blog,

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