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Ali Fayyad, 46, is an Oxford-trained political strategist for Hezbollah. He was elected to the Lebanese Parliament in June 2009.
(Click here to read about how Hezbollah's loss in the recent election has it rethinking its political strategy, though not its commitment to armed struggle.)
Why did you stand for parliament after 15 years running Hezbollah’s think tank?
I think it’s time for a change.
What kind of change?
Hezbollah considers the next era a very important political era, and Hezbollah needs to organize a lot of discussion with the other Lebanese groups. And I think Hezbollah will make a dialogue with foreign countries. I have long experience in dialogue with other Europeans and other Lebanese.
What would Hezbollah discuss with Western governments?
Hezbollah has taken a decision to improve its foreign relationships and foreign ties. We need to dialogue with the foreign players who are concerned with Hezbollah. I think we will never lose if we make dialogue with the European countries. We need to explain how we are moderate with our internal Lebanese issues. We have a constant position to resistance, but on other issues we are reacting to make compromises. You see how European and Western propaganda makes problem for our image. We need to do a lot of things and focus about our image, to clarify our reality.
What about Hezbollah’s militia?
We have to keep our strength. We live in a world that respects only power and the strong player. But at the same time we have to work politics, and we believe that public opinion in Europe is strong and could play a strong role to change European policies. We cannot overestimate public opinion. We have to consider politics as a main part of our battle, and we have to use it defend ourselves.
Why does Hezbollah have problems with so many Arab governments?
They hate Hezbollah for many reasons: Because Hezbollah is resistance, because the success of Hezbollah embarrassed them. Hezbollah is a small party and defeated Israel. They are big countries with a lot of money, but despite that they had no success supporting the Palestinian people. They have problems with their societies. I think the experience of Hezbollah enlarged this gap between the official Arab regimes and their peoples.