«Lisa van der Hulst lisavanderhulst s0914959 MA Thesis International Studies Prof. mr. dr. Berger January 2015 10380 words Table of Contents ...»
It simultaneously constitutes and embodies a normative imaginary for enacting emancipation at various levels, beginning with inner self-transformation through resistance against religious, moral, and intellectual laxity, and ending with creative protest of which, for the select few, martial defence is one form of proactive engagement.’56 However, Ho Chi Minh’s famous utterances regarding resistance equal to a great extent the common statements and meanings in Nasrallah’s speeches. And when we compare his statements with Ho Chi Minh’s, we must admit that both leaders even have a similar manner of speech, passive aggressively juxtaposing the steadfastness and unity of the own people against the much stronger, violent
imperialists. Ho Chi Minh said in 1948:
‘Every Vietnamese, old and young, men and women, rich and poor, whatever his or her social position, must become a fighter struggling on the military, economic, political or cultural front, for the implementation of this watchword: Resistance by the entire people and in every field.’57 This is a call for the total civil resistance, encompassing self-sacrifice, that Shaykh M. Mahdi Shamsiddin aims at in his book Al-Muqawamah fi Al-Khitab Al-Fiqh Al-Siyasi.58 In the Vietnamese resistance movement, the MIG-21 fighting jet plane was not more important in the scheme of resistance than dedication to socialism or than typical Vietnamese cultural artifacts. Other statements 53 Knudsen 2005:1379.
55 A2, B12.
56 Sadiki 2010:358.
57 Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum museum, Hanoi.
58 Sadiki 2010:360.
17 by Ho Chi Minh show resemblance as well: “The Vietnamese people cherish peace, but peace cannot be separated from national independence.”59 This statement reflects both Hamas’ and Hezbollah’s stance regarding the Israeli occupation of Palestine. In 1969 Ho Chi Minh died, and in his testament we find: “The war of resistance against US aggression may drag on. Our people may have to face new sacrifices of life and property. Whatever happens, we must keep firm our resolve to fight the US aggressors until total victory.”60 Resistance against (US) imperialism and aggression is recurring rhetoric of Hamas, Hezbollah, the Vietnamese resistance movement, and of many more resistance or national independence movements throughout history. It was only after the 1967 defeat in the war with Israel that Islam gained ground at the expense of secularism in the Arab states, but (armed) resistance has been a constant factor. This is the framework in which we should see the Hamas-Hezbollah relationship: a sameness beyond Islam or the Middle-East, even more holistic than Sadiki accounts for.
The result of the fact that the organizations share an ultimate goal and a strategy is a strong interconnectedness in the form of sameness. The concept of muqāwama is the core of this sameness.
In the words of a Hezbollah publication: ‘And the parties realized, despite the ideological differences between them, that it can be the foundation for a long-term relationship, its essence being resistance.’61 Another constant position of both Hamas and Hezbollah, often recurring in their publications, is noninterference in the business of other Arab states. The difference between the two movements can be found in the performance of this position. Non-interference for Hezbollah means anti-imperialism;
deposing Assad without giving him a chance to introduce reforms is illegitimate and a Western conspiracy. Non-interference for Hamas means that one should follow the will of the Syrian people.
Hezbollah sees a need to defend Assad militarily because Western sponsored ‘takfiris’ started to fight Assad first, which is unfair. For Hamas leader Abu Marzouk Sunni terrorism in Syria does not influence the decision not to interfere militarily. Of course this is easy to say for a movement that already depends on others supporting their own cause and cannot afford to employ man and fire power for other causes.
Despite this difference in performance, all countries in the Axis of Resistance normally discourage internal disagreement and especially displaying it. For Hamas this was particularly true under the leadership of Sheikh Yasin.62 As I will point out in the next section, the philosophy behind this is that it empowers the enemy.
59 Statement from 1965. Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum museum, Hanoi.
60 Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum museum, Hanoi.
62 Knudsen 2005:1381.
18 Anti-sectarianism and unity In the discourse analysis anti-sectarianism and unity emerged as extra narratives, apart from the labels in my matrix. Hamas and Hezbollah officials repeatedly spoke out against sectarianism and their behavior confirms their dedication to this ideal. From a religious angle one would expect tensions between Hezbollah and Assad, because historically orthodox Twelver Shia like Hezbollah clashed with Alawite Shia like Assad. This is one out of many signs that the Hamas-Hezbollah relationship should not be viewed from a sectarian angle. Instead of a Sunni and a Shia axis, so common in Western analyses of the Middle-East, Hezbollah thinks in terms of an ‘Axis of opposition and resistance’ against a Western-Israeli axis that some Arab states like Saudi-Arabia decided to support.
The Axis of Resistance offers unity in three ways: it consists of both 1) Arabs and Persians, 2) Sunni and Shia, 3) Islamists and Secularists. Hezbollah’s religious ideology does not stand in the way of forming a political block with Lebanon’s Christians of the Free Patriotic Movement and providing social services to all civilians. In his speeches Nasrallah often stresses that resistance is a joint IslamicChristian struggle.
Nasrallah literally pointed out countless times what Hezbollah’s nonsectarian reasons are to support Assad and to continue to support Hamas. Hezbollah views the Western-backed Syrian opposition as another wave of imperialism.63 The Syrian civil war therefore became an extension of Hezbollah’s ideology of resistance and supporting Assad is a form of resistance.
In the category of unity, connectedness is not about Hezbollah/Hamas specifically, but about a broader Middle East or Islamic world or even about all powerless and oppressed. The leaders of both organizations avoid explicit accusations and emphasize unity. The practical reason is that the enemies would benefit from any sign of disagreement in the resistance camp. Ignoring differences and emphasizing brotherhood among the enemies of the enemy appears to be the most rational, practical thing to do. Senior associate at Lebanon’s Carnegie Middle East Center Sayigh expects that the Axis of Resistance weakens further if the conviction in the rest of the world grows that it is a Shia axis now.
The inducement for my research proves that it is partly too late: Western media, political analysts and academic literature assume a sectarian crisis in the marriage of Hamas and Hezbollah or even believe that their alliance has always been weak and opportunistic. Sayigh theorizes on Hamas’ alleged alliance switch: “I guess they just don’t have the choice of staying in the Axis of Resistance when almost everyone else sees that in a sectarian way.”64 But an answer to whether or not the Western axis succeeded in setting Hamas against the Axis of Resistance, must be found in Hamas’ decision-making process.
64 Sayigh, Y. interview with NOW Lebanon. (Rowell, A.(8June2013) ‘When Resistances Collide’ last accessed 29Oct2014, https://now.mmedia.me/lb/en/reportsfeatures/when-resistances-collide.
19 Decision-making process within Hamas Although Meshaal never spoke out clearly against Assad and the atrocities he allegedly committed, he started to focus on Egypt, Saudi-Arabia and the Gulf in 2012, about a year after the Syrian war started.
On February 24 prime minister Haniyeh declared loyalty to the Syrian rebels, during a speech in Cairo. Professor Abu Khalil65 is perhaps the person most accurately describing the event when he calls the action a ‘failed gamble’ for ideologically close mother organization Muslim Brotherhood when it came to power in June 2012 as was long expected. However, the discourse analysis suggests that there was a bifurcation within the movement. Despite efforts to preserve the unity of Hamas (E, G ) different officials give different accounts of the alleged alliance switch. In the words of Abu Marzouk, member of the leadership abroad and since 2012 living in Cairo, ‘We have paid dearly for non-intervention in the internal affairs of Syria, and the price is our exit from Syria, which was the most important arena for us. And the instruction was not easy for the leadership and not for the components, since there is no longer an arena of gathering of the politburo, and the diaspora were harsh for the sons of the movement, but it is certainly less harmful than the aligned and the intervention in internal Arab business.’66 On the other hand, source F argues that ‘[c]lose observers point out that there was hardly a consensus within the top leadership on taking such a step, and that the decision was made by a minority who happened to be present at the meeting.’ And that ‘[i]nside sources reveal that tremendous pressure has been exerted on the Hamas leadership to distance itself from Hezbollah and to publicly denounce its intervention in Syria, which some in the Palestinian resistance have reluctantly obliged.’ Could this be true, considering the structure and the decision-making process of Hamas?
Hamas’ organizational structure is relatively complex and democratic.67 Whereas Hassan Nasrallah is per definition incorruptible because of his descent from the Prophet, and even more so because of his aura of personal authority, within Hamas authority depends more on the rational legal realm. 68 Both Gunning and Hovdenak have laid out clearly how the Hamas management works.
‘Formal authority within Hamas is derived from elections. At the bottom of the hierarchy are small ‘cells’ or ‘usrat’ (families), which consist of a cell leader and cell members. At the next level are regional consultative or shura councils69, which consist of representatives elected biennially by established Hamas members within a particular region. In addition, each prison appears to have the equivalent of a shura council (…) The regional shura councils elect representatives to a national Shura Council, which in turn elects the Executive Council or Political Bureau (…) The Shura Council is the equivalent of the legislative power at state level. It has final authority over formal policy decisions, and determines the strategy and the political aims of the organisation. The Political Bureau is the equivalent of the executive at state level and is charged with the day-to-day implementation of the Shura Council’s 70 strategy.’ 65 Abu Khalil 2013.
67 Gunning 2007; Frankel 2012; Hovdenak 2009.
68 Invoking Weber’s types of authority (Weber ( 1958):1-11.) 69 The Islamic equivalent of consultation, already mentioned in the Quran and hadith. A shura implies a gathering during which decisions are made democratically.
70 Gunning 2007:98-100.
20 In theory Hamas policy is decided at the grassroots level: small committees with a specific sphere of competence.71 In turn, ‘each section of Hamas is divided into smaller sub-units, down to local neighborhood committees, led by a political leader with the title of amir al-manteqa (‘prince of the neighborhood’)..’72 As al-Rantisi described the distribution of power: ‘if the Shura Council says that Hamas should do something, then we, as leaders here, and Khalid Mish‘al [abroad] will say what the Shura [Council] said… So the last word will be for the Shura [Council], not for Khalid Mish‘al or Shaykh Ahmad Yassin.’73 Keeping unity and resolving disagreements is necessary for Hamas to maintain democratic and thereby authoritative. Debate, consultation and bargaining are used to create a majority of representatives who support a compromise.74 A Hamas leader does not have the authority to have it his own way. This was confirmed by ordinary Hamas members in Gunning’s research.
Likewise, a large majority of these respondents reported to think of their leaders as trustworthy.
Therefore, it should not be possible for a few leaders to make the decision to move headquarters to Qatar on their own.
On the other hand, there are some problems that rise from Hamas’ inclusive, broad, democratic decision-making process and its political culture of unity. As Gunning found, nomination for Shura candidates comes from above for practical reasons, so one needs to be liked by the leaders and there is no absolute freedom of choice.75 Also, it is often hard to express a view that departs from the dominant view within Hamas, more so because it is difficult to know whether one’s view is deviant or shared because of the clandestine environment in which Hamas needs to operate.76 Gunning gives as an example Haniyeh pulling back from the 1996 elections in Palestine even though many Hamas members supported him in participating in the elections. Members who called for a boycott of the elections started to portray Haniyeh as a traitor. Because these quarrels compromise Hamas’ eventual goal to liberate Palestine, Haniyeh withdrew his candidacy. So ‘[e]ven without overt coercion, the consensual model can thus be (ab)used to impose a unanimous position even if the dissenting position has technically been authorised and may have represented the majority view of the grassroots members. (…) Precisely because authority is believed to be derived from representing the collective, once a decision is taken by the Shura Council, it is accepted as authoritative by the membership, regardless of whether they agree with it. This process is aided by the trust members have in the leadership. But it also makes the decision-making process slow, unwieldy and 77 conservative.’ This combination of advanced democracy and the importance of consensus (shūra and ijma‘) is likely to be the reason behind the year of haziness regarding Hamas’ position in the Syrian war. It also suggests that there can still be a pro-Assad majority in Hamas.
71 Gunning 2007:100.
72 Hovdenak 2009:64.
73 ‘Abdel ‘Aziz al-Rantisi, one of the founders of Hezbollah, as quoted by Gunning 2007:101.
74 Gunning 2007:139.