Rami G Khouri writes:
Who would have thought that a gynecologist’s office in the Hizbullah-dominated southern Beirut suburb of Dahieh would be the symbolic place where the colonial and anti-colonial struggles of the past century would reach their confrontational peak and bring to a head this long-simmering war? Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s call Thursday night for all Lebanese to stop cooperating with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which is investigating and will soon indict those it believes killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others five years ago, followed an attempt by STL officers to examine patient files in the doctor’s office in Dahieh a few days ago, presumably because the STL has evidence it believes implicates some Hizbullah personnel in the assassinations. Hizbullah supporters, mostly women, beat back the STL party and quickly heightened the political confrontation that has been brewing in the country for months.
Nasrallah’s open call to boycott and actively oppose the STL marks an historical moment of reckoning that is as dangerous as it was inevitable. This is because Hizbullah and the STL represent perhaps the two most powerful symbols of the two most important forces that have defined the Middle East for the past century or more: On the one hand, Western (including Israeli) interests and interventions that seek to shape this region in a manner that suits Western aims more than it suits indigenous rights, and, on the other hand, native Arab-Islamic-nationalist resistance that seeks to shape our societies according to Arab-Islamic worldviews as defined by a consensus of local actors, identities and forces.
Stripped to its core, this tension between Hizbullah and the STL is a microcosm of the overarching fact of the modern era in which Western-manufactured Arab statehood has generally failed to gain either real traction or sustained credibility; thus it has fallen on groups like Hizbullah to play a leading role in confronting Israeli and Western power in a manner that most Arab governments have been unable or unwilling to do.