Hezbollah's military power is not guarantee of victory in parliamentary elections

Azerbaijan, Baku, June 2 / Trend , U.Sadikhova/

Statements by the Lebanese Party of Hezbollah on the need to re-arm the Lebanese army is directed against the U.S. interference in Lebanon's military policy, but experts exclude that this may affect the parliamentary elections.

"Hezbollah is a political party that uses military force against the Israeli attacks, but not to win the elections," Head of the European Research Center for the Mediterranean basin Awad Chamas told Trend in a telephone conversation from Brussels.

On June 1, the head of the party Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah in his pre-election speech said that in the case of a victory in the upcoming parliamentary elections on 7 June, the party will begin to re-arm the Lebanese army, Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Ausat said.

The main struggle in the election will be between the pro-Western coalition of the "14 March", which has a majority in parliament and the opposition coalition "8 March", which includes Hezbollah, supported by Syria and Iran.

The analysts do not exclude the probability of victory of the opposition in elections, but it will not be achieved by military means.

Hezbollah holds 23 seats out of 128 in the Lebanese parliament, and because of the high military capabilities, achieved thanks to the Iranian arm supply, the party has the right to arm in the war against Israel.

Statements by Hezbollah on plans to re-arm are caused by Washington's desires to mobilize the Lebanese army under its control, as opposed to the party, Political Scientist on Lebanese politics Talal Atrisi believes.

"Hezbollah wants to prove that it is not against the Lebanese national army and the establishment of a strong state in Lebanon, of which it is blamed," Professor of the Lebanese University Atrisi told Trend in a telephone conversation from Beirut. He believes that the reason of Hezbollah's raising the question of re-armament is connected with the U.S. military air to the Lebanese Army.

During the Lebanon visit two weeks ago, U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden's said that if the opposition wins the elections, the U.S. assistance to the Lebanese Army will be reconsidered.
Following the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon in 2005 as a result of the "Cedar Revolution" of the anti-Syrian coalition, Washington stated its readiness to re-arm the Lebanese army, which was under the Syrian control during 30 years, at $400 million. Europe and the United States want to turn the Lebanese army into the "inner efficient counter-terrorism force", capable to resist Hezbollah and its pro-Syrian allies, RIA Novosti reported.

Nicola Pratt, Lecturer in Comparative Politics & International Relations, believes that the two coalitions - "14 March " and "8 March " - want to demonstrate their strength in preserving Lebanon's sovereignty and security in the country.

" The issue of which party can best guarantee Lebanon's security and sovereignty is probably the single most important issue in these elections," Pratt, a researcher of International Relations University of East Anglia said to Trend via e-mail. Both the 14 March coalition and the 8 March coalition (which includes Hizbollah) are both keen to present themselves as the best candidates to achieve this objective.

The 14 March want to see Hizbollah's armed wing demobilised since this is seen as a challenge to the authority of the government and, therefore, the sovereignty of Lebanon. However, until now, they do not have the power to do this.

But Hezbollah would not send a military force to achieve victory in the parliamentary elections because the party has sought to address in Lebanon as a political force, not a military group, observers believe.

Before the elections, Hezbollah has pledged to respect the ethnic and religious equality in Lebanon.

The survey shows that the party could count on 60 percent of the vote, due to the contribution of funds to the construction of houses destroyed by Israeli bombardment, aid to students and construction of hospitals, Time magazine said.

Shamas, an analyst at the Lebanese politics, believes that the military forces of Hezbollah will not be applied to the election, but directed only against Israeli military attacks.

It is necessary to delineate the political course Hezbollah [in Lebanon] from the resistance [to Israel], " Shamas said.

After getting seats in the Parliament of Lebanon and the Energy Minister portfolio by a member of the movement, Hezbollah was divided into two camps - military and political, but both wing groups have the same goal in the fight against Israel. The last war in July 2006 between Israel and Hezbollah ended with the introduction of international UN contingent in southern Lebanon, which is still under Israeli occupation.

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