August 25, 2006 Special Dispatch No. 1266

Intra-Shi'ite Criticism: Hizbullah Didn't Ask the Shi'ites About the War; The Shi'ites Authorized No One to Declare War in Their Name

August 25, 2006
Lebanon | Special Dispatch No. 1266

In an interview with the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar, the mufti of Tyre and of the Jabal 'Aamel district, Sayyed 'Ali Al-Amin, demanded that the Lebanese government bear its responsibility and deploy the Lebanese army in the south of the country. This is because, he says, it is the government that is responsible for the security of the south, and no other group. Al-Amin criticized the accusations of treason against anyone who has called to disarm Hizbullah, arguing that "no community [in Lebanon] is more nationalist and more loyal than another." According to him, "the Shi'ite community in Lebanon authorized no one to declare war in its name" - on the contrary, he said, it opposed the war and is loyal to the state just like Lebanon's other ethnic communities. He clarified that the support for the resistance in the south was no substitute for loyalty to the state, and stressed that this support was common to all Lebanon. [1]

The following are excerpts from the interview:

"[Neither] Lebanon nor the Lebanese People Have any Connection to This War; the War was Forced Upon the Country and People, Who Did Not Want It"

Question: "How do you assess the 33-day war in Lebanon?"

Sayyed Ali Al-Amin: "It was a difficult and crazed war, that Israel undertook as a collective punishment for Lebanon... In this war, Israel deviated from all the international laws and conventions. This is nothing new for [Israel]; it has been its way and its method since it was established...

"[Neither] Lebanon nor the Lebanese people have any connection to this war. The war was forced upon the country and people, who did not want it. Everyone demanded an immediate ceasefire from the moment it broke out, but Israel continued in its aggression, unrestrained.

"This war, and Israel's other recurring wars in Lebanon, revealed the extent of [Lebanon's] lack of preparation [for war] in all areas... Such preparations are necessary for someone who anticipates or plans for war, and pushes towards it... Had there been a minimum level of preparedness, great losses would have been prevented. That is if we assume that the war was necessary, and it should have been solely Lebanon's responsibility.

"But from the form of the open war, from its broad scope, and from the type of arms used during it, we see that this is a war of another kind, a kind uncommon in wars of liberation and popular resistance - rather, it was an all-out war, waged by countries with their armies. If the war was necessary in this way, it was everyone's obligation, and [one particular] part, [i.e. Lebanon,] must not bear its results and its burden [alone]... [But] we think that that this war was not the obligation of Lebanon alone; rather, it should have been part of an overall Arab strategy of war and conflict, of which Lebanon would have been just one component, and not its ultimate scapegoat. Lebanon paid a heavy price in an ill-advised battle, with no preparation. What is the sense and what is the courage in this?..."

"Had the Previous Agreements Been Implemented, We Would Not Have Reached This Situation"

Question: "What do you think is the solution to get out of the continuing deadlock...?"

Sayyed Ali Al-Amin: "Our unity as Lebanese, which was embodied in popular solidarity... and in cooperation [between the elements] of the government... are the basis for a solution and for getting out of the deadlock.

"The points presented by the Lebanese government [for a solution], and to which the various [Lebanese camps] unanimously agreed, are points that draw on previous agreements, which were the basis for everyone joining the state. Had the previous agreements been implemented, we would not have reached this situation.

"Accordingly, I maintain that these points - even though they were basically raised to solve external problems emanating from the Israeli aggression - are also suitable for an opening to the solution of the internal political crisis. Such [a solution] would be by [all camps] fully committing to the state, and a return to [the state's] constitutional, judicial, and political institutions. Then, all the cards will be in the hand of the state - [the state] which constitutes an overarching framework for all Lebanese, who will find in it protection, security, prosperity, and stability only in the framework of one state to which they are loyal, which they defend, and which is just to all.

"The Lebanese experience has proved the failure of communities and parties defending and protecting themselves alone; thus, there is no substitute for one state to which everyone, without exception, belongs."

"In a Society [in Which Different Communities] Live Side by Side, Accusations of Treason Should Be Removed From the Dictionary of Life..."

Question: "What is your position regarding the struggle that is going on between [the supporters of continued possession of] arms by the resistance and of its role, and [the supporters of] restricting arms to the state only?"

Sayyed Ali Al-Amin: "When the state truly fills the role with which it is charged, it alone bears responsibility for actualizing sovereignty and defense... The people does not assign this responsibility to a party or to a [particular] group, but rather demands it from the state that represents everyone."

Question: "[Hizbullah spiritual leader] Muhammad Hussein Fadhlallah said that all talk of disarming the resistance was treason of the highest order. What is your view?"

Sayyed Ali Al-Amin: "Categorizing and name-calling is not acceptable, and it is strange that it is happening now, while everyone is trying to strengthen national solidarity and to bring the different views closer together, in order to deal with the danger of the Israeli attacks. All Lebanese are in the same trench, and no community is more nationalist and more loyal than another...

"The question of disarming [Hizbullah] is one that has [already] been discussed at the National Dialogue table, with the aim of finding suitable solutions for it, and it was submitted for discussion by... genuine partners in the state-building process... [Therefore,] is it right to accuse everyone, or some [of treason] while all have proven their solidarity during the crisis?...

"Let us assume that an agreement [is reached] regarding the disarming [of Hizbullah]; the arms are not handed over to enemies... On the contrary, they are arms that will be handed over to the Lebanese state in which everyone participates - including the owners of the weapons... Had there been any treason or prohibition in this, why did those who are interested in it [i.e. Hizbullah] and the rest of the participants in the dialogue set it on the dialogue table?

"At this stage, we need greater objectivity, and to distance ourselves from exaggeration and from words that sow fear and raise obstacles that prevent the presentation of legitimate questions... In my opinion, any question is legitimate - and all the more so if it is connected to the homeland, to the fate [of the country], and to the future... In a society [in which different communities] live side by side, accusations of treason should be removed from the dictionary of life and from relations with each other."

Nowhere in the World Except in Lebanon Does the President Oppose Deploying the Army and the State's Authority Throughout the Homeland

Question: "What is your opinion on the decision to deploy the army in the south, and what are the missions required of the army?"

Sayyed Ali Al-Amin: "There is no doubt that deploying the Lebanese army on all the Lebanese lands is welcomed and supported by the entire people... This step taken recently by the government had been the obligation of the various [Lebanese] governments since the Taif Agreement. We never heard, in the entire world except Lebanon, that a president - past or present - would oppose the deployment of the state's army and authority on all the lands of the homeland...

"With regard to the missions with which the Lebanese army is charged, they are many and large, and the first one is the mission of defending the country from the Israeli aggression and to deploy the state's authority in all the lands of the homeland. The army's presence in the south and in all of Lebanon is a fundamental [component of] the state, and it is necessary for the defense of the homeland. Similarly, it strengthens national belonging and adherence to the state and to its institutions... and will restore the national anthem to all the Lebanese."

"What Happened in the South Does Not Represent the Will of the Shi'ite Community... [But] Was Caused by the Vacuum That the Lebanese State Left for Years in This Region"

Question: "Do you think that Hizbullah has monopolized the Shi'ite community, and dragged the country into a difficult war in its name?..."

Sayyed Ali Al-Amin: "I don't think Hizbullah asked the Shi'ite community about the war. Perhaps the great emigration from the south is the best proof that the people of the south were against the war. The Shi'ite community authorized no one to declare war in its name or to drag it into a war that was far from its wishes and from the wishes of the other ethnic communities in Lebanon. What happened in the south does not represent the will of the Shi'ite community, and is not its responsibility, but was caused by the vacuum that the Lebanese state left for years in this region... What happened is the natural result of a state relinquishing its duty to defend a region and its citizens."

Question: "Does the Shi'ite community have dual loyalty, to Hizbullah and to the state?"

Sayyed Ali Al-Amin: "The Lebanese Shi'ites are like the rest of the Lebanese in all things regarding adhering to the Lebanese state, and loyalty to it. Their history, past and present, attests to their loyalty and their sacrifice in this way... I don't think that the support that the resistance received in the south is a substitute for loyalty to the Lebanese state. The state, with all its institutions and sectors, participated in this support... I maintain that if we had conducted a poll in the south about [support] for and loyalty to the Lebanese state, the result would have been the same as in the other regions of Lebanon: overall agreement regarding loyalty to the Lebanese homeland and to the Lebanese state.

"The Lebanese Shi'ites have no framework or loyalty unique to them except that of the single Lebanese state - which must take matters into its own hands and deploy its authority throughout all Lebanese lands..."

[1] Al-Nahar (Lebanon), August 22, 2006.

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