Lebanon marked the anniversary of the 2000 Israeli withdrawal from the south Monday, but turning back the clock to that time is particularly instructive.
When the Hezbollah-led resistance to Israeli occupation triumphed then, Lebanese were appreciative and grateful, and no one could deny that the resistance was fighting an occupying force.
But the resistance’s reputation has suffered a series of self-inflicted wounds in recent years. Hezbollah began to intervene in a range of domestic issues, both large and small, as it became used to treating too many matters as impinging on the security and future of its cause.
The party has used its military might, or the threat of this military might, to exert pressure on other domestic political groups, with the same kind of unilateral, consequences-be-damned policies operating at the regional level, most alarmingly in the war raging in Syria.
In other words, “the resistance” has gone from being a weapon used to deter foreign occupiers to a running excuse for issuing ultimatums to domestic political rivals.
When Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah delivered a speech on Liberation Day, he signaled that his party’s rise in hubris showed no sign of abating. Instead of talking about Hezbollah’s need for political cover from the Lebanese state, he informed the people that the Lebanese state is in need of their protection. It is little wonder that the party sees no need to deal with its national partners, since it has outgrown the small confines of its national environment.
Threatening other political groups with a “permanent veto” is certainly one way for Hezbollah to behave, but only if it cares nothing about the support of people who celebrated Liberation Day 14 long years ago.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 28, 2014, on page 7.