Monday, 9 August 2010
Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah's active appearances and talks with his wide audience in Beirut as well as his secretive, but fairly unlimited movements around the tiny Mediterranean country and abroad are countless. Nasrallah appeared in a tripartite summit with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Syria earlier this year. Nasrallah also made an unannounced visit to Behman Hospital in his party's stronghold in Beirut's Southern Suburbs to bid the late Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah farewell upon the latter's passing away last month.
Nevertheless, Nasrallah has remained in an unknown hideout since the 33-day war launched by Israel against the party and its Lebanese incubator. The total destruction of Beirut's Southern Suburbs in July and August 2006 under the pretext that Hezbollah chief lived there, key Hezbollah figures took up offices in the densely-populated Shi'a-majority neighbourhoods of Haret Hreik and the fact that the party's civilian offices were located there, drove Nasrallah and top Hezbollah commanders into hiding.
Nasrallah's location remains a mystery. But that has recently been questioned. To what extent has Nasrallah's secret hideout been a secret to his Israeli hunters?
The arrest of retired army Brigadier General Fayez Karam early this month has unveiled new worries that Nasrallah's secret location might not be that secret after all. Karam, a senior official in pro-Hezbollah Michel Aoun's Christian "Free Patriotic Movement" (FPM) is said to have met with Nasrallah in the latter's secret hideout at least once. General Michel Aoun is believed to have been present in the meetings according to Israeli news site Enyan Merkazi.
The news appeared today on Ma'an News Agency today. My illiteracy in Hebrew has prevented me from accessing the original report or its contents.
Karam is one of some 50 arrests made by the Lebanses security forces since July as part of an ever-expanding probe into an alleged network of Israeli spies in Lebanon's telecommunications sector. Hezbollah is reportedly keen to follow-up with investigations into the allegations.
Noteworthy, the arrests are justifying Hezbollah's continued operation of an independent telecommunications network which, it says, is essential to maintain the strategic secrecy of the military resistance at arms' length from Israeli interception and infiltration. The independence and secrecy of Hezbollah's telecommunications networks was at the heart of the 2008 conflict in Lebanon and caused a violent clash between pro-Hezbollah forces and the government on May 7, 2008.
Concern has risen amongst supporters of Aoun's FPM whose fear of retaliation and stigmatisation is currently high suggest Fayez Karam could have been working with or associated with the FPM's prime Christian arch-enemy, the Lebanese Forces (LF). This baseless conspiracy theory is perhaps fuelled by an interview with LF chief Samir Geagea aired on MTV-Lebanon. In his interview on 20 July, Geagea told prominent media person Walid Aboud he is "sick and tired of the LF being accused of collaborating with Israel" referring to the LF agreement with Israeli occupation forces in 1982. Geagea told Aboud he is astonished the LF are being accused of such a thing when "nonw of those arrested recently and accused of spying for Israel are at all affiliated with the LF - in fact, time will prove they are affiliated to everyone but us! Including Hezbollah's partisans." His comments, days before Fayez Karam's arrest are perhaps coincidental or emblematic of information leakages within the security apparatus - but for Aounists, it's an LF conspiracy against their party and their leader. The interview was part of Walid Aboud's political talk show "Bi-Mawdou'iyya" and can be watched here.