The Salafi spectre and some other conclusions

Fida’ Itani is back with this haunting idea that behind every weakening of Mustaqbal, there is a strengthening of Sunni Salafi groups that are more anti-Shi’a than anti-Israeli. I do agree with his analysis, in the fact that there is an increasing anti-Shi’a sentiment in the country. But I do also think that anti-Shi’a feelings have always existed and shared by the population at various level, social, economic and political. I wonder how much these groups can have political clout, and I don’t know how much their alleged ideology (judging from the quotes Itani provides) is really sustainable in the future. Also this demonization of “The Salafi” is very much akin to the one made of Hizbullah. Now that Hizbullah is supposed to be ‘the good guy’ wanting to build cooperatively the “Lebanese State”, the frontiers of the sanctified and not sanctified has been broadened. That said he makes a good point, and weakening Mustaqbal is certainly a lose-lose situation.

The opposition cannot weaken a party, humiliate him, etc, and then claim it wants to share power the traditional Lebanese way. This is the biggest contradiction of Hizbullah: It wants to play by the rules of the game (confessionalism, consociationalism, etc.) but uses vanguard party methods of takeover. The biggest problem of Hizbullah is that it is not a state-within-a-state it is a much better functioning State than the Lebanese State at any point of it history, yet wants to bring itself down and play by the rules of the figments of a State that is the Lebanese State. This political schizophrenia (present in Tayyar to a certain degree) may turn out to be more detrimental to the stability of the political system.

5 Replies to “The Salafi spectre and some other conclusions”

  1. Noblesse oblige … 😉

    It is not necessarily at post-Hariri assasination development, as I would argue that the fundamental dynamics were in place well before and we are just seeing the steam now. As you know, my problem with the Hersh piece of a while back included the lack of a discussion about how Sunni politics in the North were changing. This was not Hersh’s task, but the game being played in the North, I think, necessarily had to eventually give rise to some of this. Blowback, I think some call it. But here, no, it is just changing rules and players in the political game. Of course, all know that figures in M14 and M14 have been playing footsie with the Salafis (on a sliding scale of crazy) in the North for some time. This has/had consequences and any security vacuum or instability was sure to provide the smoke.

  2. Yes davidovich you’re totally right. And Fida’ discusses this long term trend in Sunni politics, especially in Tripoli. But I still don’t know how much it counts politically. Yet I am not that versed in the subject. For now all I see is specters and no real politics.

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