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The defeat of Hezbollah in last month Lebanese elections proved many pundits wrong. Just three years back, with all excitement an amendment was made in the power structure of Middle East. Ofcourse I am referring to the 2006 Israel invasion of Lebanon, where against all odds Hezbollah secured a magnificent victory, and sent many idealist on the Middle East peace process packing.

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Where Hassan Nasrullah was hailed as a hero in every corner of the Muslim world, a great turmoil was also witnessed in the domestic politics of Lebanon as well. The moderates, lead by Saad Hariri, son of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, were uprooted and it seemed that Lebanon has chosen Hezbollah for a long time to come.

            But it never happens as it seems, especially in this case. Hezbollah secured the hot seat of Lebanon, but not any more. They have been served a crushing defeat by the West/Saudi backed Hariri and this has surprised Hezbollah itself, than others. It is hard to agree on a single point as to what lead to Hezbollah downfall. The aspect of conspiracy theories can never be taken out, especially in this case. But there was no rigging, and though Western influence can be immense, yet it is not new to the Middle East or Lebanese politics. This lead us to a simple conclusion; some where down the road of power, Hezbollah like many before failed to merge the religious call with politics.

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  Hezbollah’s success was more because of its still and rigid stand over Israel, and its manifesto that mounted it above sectarian politics. During its history, it has been labeled as a Shiite centered organization, backed by Iranians. But more recently, they have some how gathered all the segments of Muslims, in Lebanon toward its sides. Once in power, the cruel national interest and power politics did play a vital part in its downfall. From my side, I cannot find a better reason than that of Israel’s invasion of Gaza in early 2009. The helpless Hamas and Palestinians were made to suffer for well over two weeks, but Hezbollah preferred to watch on. All eyes were set on that frontier, as it was expected that Hezbollah will open the second front on Israel, but this never happened. It’s a common enemy, Israel which unites them together, and unfortunately Hezbollah missed that chance.

            There can be thousand reasons to justify this act of Hezbollah, but for there defeat there cannot be another good reason than this. But there is another element which cannot be sidelined. All eyes were set on Iranian elections, and it was presumed Nejad and Mousavi will run shoulder to shoulder. But in the end, as far as official declaration is concerned, it was a convincing clean sweep for Nejad and the hardliners. Just before the announcement, the opposition claimed that they have secured 65% votes, only to find the official result entirely opposite. This was followed by a wave of protest, which it seems has gripped entire Iran. A government crackdown of massive magnitude has not hidden the fact that so much Iranians are unhappy with the current setup.

            Mr Nejad quickly responded by claiming that the unrest was part of a larger conspiracy, hatched primarily by Britain and France. This level of protest has never been seen before, especially in Iran after the revolution. The words of  guardian council were not enough to satisfy the protesting forces, and it is still continuing. This episode, if mixed with Hezbollah defeat can provide another insight. Muslims in Middle East and around the world, have started viewing the international atmosphere in a different paradigm, lately. I do not find any better reason than Mr Obama. His presence in White House has been hailed as never before. Back in there mind, Muslims feel that he is the person, who can be trusted, to some extent atleast. This trust level has taken the support of hardliners by surprise. For example, against all odds, Obama has given right signals to Iran. His message at Iranian new year “nau roze” and his soft tone toward the people, has convinced many in Iran that it is the right time to move into the 21st century. They feel that after 30 years of isolation, now they have the chance to break all the chains. But with hardliner like Mr Nejad in office, things will never move in the right direction. On this pretext, it seems that Iranians in large number voted for  the change. A change that will take them into the limelight, which they had so much in the past. This step forward seems to be next to impossible, if the traditional structure or leadership is prevailed.

            Although saying this, I am aware that this new development carries immense weight. If rightly placed, US especially Obama administration has made deep inroads straight away into the Middle East. On one hand they have neutralized Hezbollah, while on the second front they have rocked the very foundation of Iran. But with past US history, this new enthusiasm can easily lead to a position, where once again Middle East has been divided, for no good.  

 Hamid Majid Abbasi

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