Monday, 6 February 2012


Watch this documentary, produced by Egypt's Al Jizah News, about the Free Syrian Army's operations in the largely "liberated" city of Zabadani, about 20 miles outside of Damascus. As the chubby man in the ski mask and the fatigues begins talking for the second time, at around 1:40 in the clip, you'll need to know only this smattering of Arabic: "Hezbollah" means "Party of God." "Hezbashaytan" means "Party of Satan."
I bring this up because Hezbollah is another extension of Iranian power that isn't terribly popular in Syria at the moment. Analysts will say that this is exclusively because the Syrian rebels are Sunnis (not all of them, but leave that be) and the Party of God are Shia. While such sectarian calculus is no doubt partly to blame, surely the fact that Hezbollah has been for months facilitating the Assad regime's violent crackdown on protestors –  for instance, by bringing in mercenaries from Lebanon to shoot Syrian army soldiers who refused to fire on unarmed civilians – has got something to do with the mass loathing for Hasan Nasrallah's terrorist organisation. Hezbollah flags have gone up in flames in Syria alongside not just Iranian ones, but Russian and Chinese ones as well. To my knowledge, there is no intrinsic tribal conflict between Sunnis and Slavs, or Sunnis and Asians.
Also, Zabadani, which is located near the border with Lebanon, is a strategic asset for Hezbollah. The group has scores of weapons caches hidden throughout Syria, particularly in Homs, Damascus and the capital's outlying cities. Activists in Damascus say that rebels captured around eight Hezbollah agents in Zabadani earlier in the week as the latter were emptying a warehouse full of guns. Those agents are now said to be dead.
The Guardian's Ian Black, whose reporting from Syria has been heroic, captures the mood in this hilly residential hamlet quite well:
"Zabadani is 90% free and the other 10% is held by the strongest army in the Middle East," quipped teacher Ali Abdelrahman, taking part in a mourning ceremony for a man who had been killed two days earlier – the town's 14th fatality since the uprising began. "The more martyrs there are, the stronger we become and the more volunteers we get," he grinned.
And the more pro-Assad interlopers from abroad scheme, the more their paymasters suffer ideologically. Indeed, this is just in from the Media Office of the Syrian Revolution's Facebook page:
"If Hassan Nasrallah and his thuggish gang are proven complicit in any act of oppression or criminality or even supporting the brutality of this fascist regime; if what’s being said about members of this Hizb-Iran launching a Katyusha is proven correct – then expect a great deal from us O Nasr-Iran. We vow that we who toppled Bashar will strive to bring you down too, whatever the price. For you have shown yourself to be lowlife who bites the hand that fed you, who scorns those who sheltered your refugees, after Israel was killing and displacing so many Lebanese. You ingrate! You obstacle to the true, noble Resistance! We will not forgive you; you and the regime are but two sides of the same campaign of repression. Wait for us. The free, honorable Syrian people will expose your lies and your hypocrisy against our sacred blood. In Bahrain, you call it a revolution. In Syria, you call it a conspiracy. But you are the one will lose out, you sick sectarian. Long live a civil democratic, free Syria, free of your wretched like."

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