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Analysis: The Party of God's loss in the recent election has it rethinking its political strategy, though not its commitment to armed struggle.
TAIBE, Lebanon — What’s next for the Party of God?
We might expect a period of cooler rhetoric, but barring a tectonic shift in regional power, Hezbollah will probably keep its formidable arsenal cocked and ready to fight Israel and anyone who threatens to disarm its very powerful militia.
And though American and Israeli boosters of Lebanon’s governing coalition saw a victory for the West in the recent Lebanese election results, they ought to remember that Hezbollah’s power and legitimacy remain undiminished. Even Hezbollah’s most staunchly pro-American rivals have publicly disavowed any further efforts to disarm Hezbollah.
That’s not to say that Hezbollah doesn’t face major challenges. Hezbollah had predicted victory for its coalition in Lebanon’s elections. It dismissed President Barack Obama’s address to the Muslim world as mere words. Its powerful militia depends almost entirely on Iranian largesse. Despite Iran’s own presidential elections, Tehran could bargain away its support for Hezbollah in talks with the West, and Lebanon’s election left Hezbollah and its rivals with essentially the same share of power they had in the previous parliament.
So it’s no surprise that Hassan Nasrallah’s militant Shiite party assumed a conciliatory tone after Lebanon voted for a new parliament on June 7. Nasrallah urged his supporters to accept the results of the vote, even as he pointed to its flaws, including a vote-buying and a historically skewed system built on sectarian gerrymandering.
Lost in the declarations of victory and the political maneuvers of the defeated are some important realities that should interest anyone paying close attention to the “Resistance Axis” that includes Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas: