I have a lot of hopeful optimism (and some confidence) in Hizbullah's future as a political party, provided that certain leaders in the movement remain alive, and that the relationship with the FPM proves to be an enduring one.
To give you an example of what I mean, after the Hariri assassination, the international media was glowing with coverage on the so-called "Cedar Revolution", and its gorgeous almond-eyed minxes with their red tanktops on the covers of the NYT, WashPost, etc. It was truly a made for TV revolution (which doesn't detract from the sincerity of its million-plus participants, in my opinion… it's not our fault if Lebanese women are good looking).
But to me, what is far more interesting was Hizbullah's response. The pro-Syria rallies were, at first, decidedly lo-fi in the way of marketing. The banners and publicity materials harkened back to the martyrdom poster school of self-branding (referred to in the article you posted). However, since 2005, Hizbullah has ramped up its publicity wing to the point that it seriously rivals that of March 14. Their materials now are much sharper, smarter, and embody a real nationalist flavor. To me, it seems clear that the ship has been pointed towards a new horizon.
But they can't just drop their guns and run. They need political guarantees, security guarantees… it's going to be a long transition period, and of course everything depends on the regional security situation.
Is Hamas' offer of a 10-year truce with Israel sincere? Is it a plausible gesture that should be carefully studied as a possible prelude to a comprehensive peace?
Hamas clearly is sending strong signals that it is prepared to play the diplomatic game – but not at any price, as Fatah and Yasser Arafat did for years. Hamas' offer of a long-term truce with Israel is neither permanent peace nor recognition of Israel. Those might follow from future negotiations, but only if Palestinians enjoy their equal national rights simultaneously, and this requires rules of the diplomatic game that are more even-handed.
Two pertinent issues are involved here. The first is whether Islamist movements like Hamas, Hizbullah and the Muslim Brotherhood can be trusted and taken at their word when they speak of accepting democratic pluralism or negotiating with Israel. Many in Israel, the West and parts of the Arab world view these groups as insincere opportunists and deceitful tricksters who will speak the language of democracy and peace while actually planning to grab power and turn the region into one large Islamic theocracy or Iranian puppet theater….
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel would be open to participating in a senior-level meeting with the Syrians brokered by Turkey to test the waters for renewed peace negotiations, Israeli officials said on Sunday.
Such a preliminary meeting between Israeli and Syrian representatives would be the next step in mediation efforts by Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who held talks over the weekend with Syrian President Bashar al Assad, the officials said.
That meeting could lay the groundwork for more formal talks in the future, Israeli officials said, though Erdogan could face an uphill task bringing the two sides to formal negotiations before U.S. President George W. Bush leaves office next January…..
The Syrian site Israel bombed in September was not part of a nuclear weapons programme, but was a military facility under construction, President Bashar al-Assad said in remarks published on Sunday.
Last week, Washington released intelligence alleging Syria had built a nuclear reactor with North Korean help before an Israeli air strike destroyed the facility on Sept. 6.
"Is it logical? A nuclear site did not have protection with surface to air defences? A nuclear site within the footprint of satellites in the middle of Syria in an open area in the desert?" Assad told Qatar's al-Watan newspaper in an interview conducted before the U.S. accusations were made.
At that stage, he was commenting on media reports that said the target was a nuclear site. "The truth is that the raid was at a military site under construction," Assad said in the interview. "We are against mass destruction weapons for Israel, Iran or others."
Assad said it was illogical for Syria to seek a nuclear bomb. "Where would we use it? On Israel it would kill the Palestinians. I do not see this as logical."
Assad accused Washington of ignoring a Syrian proposal to make the Middle East a region free of weapons of mass destruction "because it included Israel".
In 2003, when Syria was a member of the United Nations' Security Council, the Arab state pushed for a ban on nuclear, biological and chemical weapons in the Middle East in what was seen than as a bid to shine a spotlight on Israel's arsenal.
Israel is believed to have about 200 nuclear warheads but the country's policy is not to discus the issue — which some diplomats say is an open secret.
Speaking after the U.S. accusations, Syria's ambassador to the United States dismissed as "a fantasy" the U.S. allegations.
Assad said he did not know why Israel, officially at war with Syria since the 1973 Middle East conflict, bombed the site.
"Why did they raid it, we do not know what data they had, but they know and they see through satellites; they have raided an incomplete site that did not have any personnel or anything. It was empty," he added.
Asked about Syria's response, Assad said: "Retaliation does not mean a missile for a missile, a bomb for a bomb or a bullet for a bullet … They (Israelis) understand what we mean. We do not say that we will retaliate, i.e. we will bomb."
"You have to ask a different question; had Syria not been harming Israeli policy would Israel have carried out an operation of this sort? The truth is that we have the means to respond, but in our own way."
"We understand Israel wants to provoke Syria and possibly to drag Syria into war while we do not seek war. We have been clear about this point. We have other means and we do not necessarily have to declare them."
Assad refused to answer a question about reports that Syria was seeking to acquire Russian missiles.
"If there was a door open, even if it was small, for peace you should not seek war but you should seek to defend yourself. Now are you prepared or not, psychologically we are always ready and constantly prepare ourselves, but in terms of results no one knows results until the battle itself."
Watan ran part of the interview on Thursday in which he said Damascus was ready to negotiate with Israel through Turkey to "find common ground" for peace, but any direct talks must wait until a new U.S. president is elected.
Syria says it received word from Turkey that Israel was willing to give back the occupied Golan Heights in full in return for peace with the Arab state — a key issue that led decade-long negotiations to falter in 2000. (Reporting by Summer Said; writing by Inal Ersan)