The news from the Mideast keeps getting better. The Financial Times reported on April 7th in Hezbollah Hints at Disarmament Compromise that it might end armed resistance against Israel once it withdraws from Shebaa Farms, a small but sensitive enclave that borders Israel, Lebanon and Syria.
Apparently, there is much discussion among Hezbollah’s supporters and the anti-Syrian opposition in Lebanon about what role the former’s military wing would play in a post-Syrian-occupied Lebanon. Many in the opposition would like to see Hezbollah disarm entirely and become absorbed within the Lebanese political and military system.
Sheikh Naim Qassim
Deputy Hezbollah leader Sheikh Naim Qassim would not go that far. He used a vague and awkward locution to describe the group’s future military plans:
“We will discuss [Hizbollah’s] arms after Shebaa but on condition that a credible alternative is found to protect Lebanon. A reservist army doesn’t mean the resistance becomes part of the army but it’s a formula of co-ordination with the army. It’s resistance by another name.”
For this reason alone, we should not begin the dancing. It appears the good sheik is hedging his bets and reserving the right resist Israel in some way (reminds one of the current impasse within the IRA in which its old fighters can’t seem to get their bad, old ways out of their system once prospects for an equitable peace become real). But it is a very positive first step toward a negotiated compromise on this issue. What remains is for Israel and Syria to decide how to handle this delicate territorial dispute (which will be no small order).
While this story is important in its own right, it is also important as an indicator of what might happen to Hamas in relation to its own campaign of armed resistance to Israel. Now, we can forsee a time when these two major foes of Israel might (given the right conditions presented to them by the Israeli side) end their resistance and become purely political players in their respective societies. And once this happens, one can envision a more normalized Middle East in which all nations enjoy diplomatic relations, and political, business and cultural exchanges.
To quote Louis Armstrong: "What a wonderful world that would be."