Sunday, September 15, 2013

On ‘Fortress Hezbollah’ by Mohammad I. Aslam
If their adversaries are to be believed, you’d get the impression that Hezbollah was unilaterally setting up a garrison state, erecting infantry fortifications, building fences and walls ringed with electrocution wires and deploying vigilante groups to administer population lock downs and interrogation dungeons, all in the quest for absolute security.The idea behind the carefully worded propaganda is to present a picture of the movement manipulating the threat of terrorist attacks in order to set up autonomous zones akin to that of a state-within-state.In reality, the movement hasn’t even remotely established anything their adversaries have gone to great lengths to depict, despite the type of monstrosity which al Qaeda and its evil breed promulgated most vividly on that quiet evening last month.Truth be told, the overt measures are a mere composition of extra security cordons at almost every entrance to its suburban strongholds and manned by both civilian and uniformed individuals from its affiliated “Union of Municipalities of the Southern Suburbs”, in liaison with security and intelligence personnel from the Lebanese state and Hezbollah itself.In practice, its materialized into a number of measures all designed to maintain security without causing too much disruption in the daily lives of residents and includes the following:
  1. The stopping and searching of almost every individual and vehicle intending to enter Dahiyeh, both for the iterative process of cross-checking identification as well as using bomb-sniffing dogs and sophisticated detection devices to check for explosive ordnance.
  2. Random stop and searches of suspect individuals in close proximity to these very check-posts or streets leading towards them, fearing they could be terrorist reconnaissance missions.
  3. The imposition of semi-permanent concrete Jersey barriers, a maze of metallic steel security barricades and mobile road blockers all designed to thwart the potential for land borne attacks such as suicide vehicle bombs.
  4. The requesting of feedback from residents of the area with regard to their vehicle/s registration and type, a measure used to prevent unidentified vehicle parking as well as intercepting unauthorized ones.
Naturally, considering the residents of the densely populated southern suburbs amount to just shy of one million people, the increased security arrangements will, by virtue of their very nature, both occasionally clog streets with cars awaiting entrance and make some disruption in the everyday movements of people.[[[[[But the counter-argument is that anything but these measures will furnish potential Al Qaeda-inspired car bombers with unfettered access to their localities, which would amount to a suicidal course of action considering their precedent so far, like that in Iraq where they’ve mercilessly slaughtered thousands, is rooted in only two-gear shifts: brutalize or kill.]]]]][[[[[In this regard, and as any serious analyst of the country’s security dilemmas would note, it’s difficult to fault Hezbollah for their concurrent preoccupation with preventative security.The show of organized force at entrances to Dahiyeh is not about Hezbollah trying to isolate itself and/or its vote bank.On the contrary, it’s clearly an attempt by the movement to raise residents morale vis-à-vis the conflicting feelings that some will no doubt be having concerning the striking of a correct balance between individual safety and the liberty to carry out the the errands of daily life.]]]]] The unprecedented security measures are also designed to send an uncompromising message to those who orchestrated the bombings, that it’s they who will ultimately feel the despair of their actions, as Hezbollah will now readily be thwarting them without any concessions on the part of the movement’s leadership.Despite the car bomb phobia gripping the country, no surprise considering the cross-sectarian nature and indifference of targets being hit in major cities, the aftermath of Hezbollah’s measures are still rife with accusations of what some perceive as their heavy-handedness.The brief detaining of two Saudi nationals and a very recent gun battle near a Palestinian refugee camp that left one dead and five others wounded in the broader vicinity of the southern suburbs, are now being highlighted to arouse ill intent against the movement and its new security deterrence.[[[[[But the ultimate line is that since there is, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, a lingering threat of further attacks targeting Hezbollah and its support base in the country, it’s only natural that the movement reserves itself with the means (in the absence of a credible state alternative) to anticipate, adapt and respond to the rapidly changing security environment that it’s now confronted with.]]]]

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