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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hezbullah signs 'memorandum of understanding' with Salafists

The Sunnis and the Shias may hate each other, but they hate America and Israel more. On Tuesday in Beirut, Iranian-backed Shia Hezbullah signed a 'memorandum of understanding' with about fifteen Salafist groups. The Salafists are Sunnis based in Saudi Arabia and provide the ideological underpinning for the extreme Wahhabism that was behind the 9/11 attacks.

On Aug. 19, leaders from Hezbollah and Salafist organizations called a press conference at Al Safir Hotel in Beirut's Raouche district and signed a memo of understanding between the two forces.

Radwan Aqeel wrote in the Beirut daily An-Nahar (Aug. 18): "Hezbollah is practicing a calm policy of overture toward the Sunni political and religious forces, especially since last May (against the Sunni Future Movement) to save the image the party has developed in the past as an 'Islamic resistance' in the Arab and Muslim world including in the Arab Gulf, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian territories."

It is believed that the move by Hezbollah to sign an agreement of understanding with Salafist organizations aims ultimately at penetrating the Arab Sunni world via Lebanon's Muslim community and maintaining an influence over the region's attitude toward the West.

According to Aqeel, "this move didn't come [out of the] void, but after many meetings away from media between representatives of Hezbollah and some Salafist groups." These encounters, said An-Nahar, included the head of Hezbollah's political bureau Ibrahim al-Amin and Sheikh Safuan al-Zuhbi from the Salafist movement.

Another Beirut daily, Al-Mustaqbal (Aug. 18) wrote that Hezbollah has been successful in recruiting 15 Salafist groups in Lebanon including the Waqf Ahya' al-Turath al-Islami to form a "Salafist camp" allied to the Iranian-Syrian axis. Hezbollah officials, wrote Al-Mustaqbal, are declaring that Americans have been defeated in the region by "resistance" in Lebanon, Iraq and Gaza.

The founder of the Salafist current in Lebanon, Sheikh Daee al-Islam al-Shahhal said it is "a partial step." Al-Akhbar, the pro-Iranian daily, reported that Shahhal argued, during visits to jihadist movements, that these agreements are happening, because of the "aggression against Islam all over the world."

At first, Shahhal rejected the Hezbollah-Salafist memorandum of understanding. But he revealed that he was not against dialogue (with Hezbollah), "but we have some reservations concerning the attack against the Sunnis in May."

Observers said his declarations were to assure the Saudis that the classical Salafis are not slipping away to the Iranian camp. However the representatives of many other Salafist groups stayed the course firmly. Hassan Shahhal who heads the Belief and Justice Movement (BJM) called the memorandum a step in the right direction.

The agreement commits to:

1) Condemn any Islamic group that assaults another.

2) Abandon incitement, which creates trouble and will allow the "enemies" to take advantage of the situation.

3) "Confront" the American agenda.

4) Firmly support Hezbollah and the Salafist movement against others.

5) Form a religious committee to discuss any disagreements between the Shiites and the Sunnis.

6) Respect each others' opinions.

But under pressures from Salafists who are opposed to HezbollahSheikh Hassan Shahhal, who signed the understanding on Monday with Hizbullah's Ibrahim Amin al-Sayyed, declared freezing the agreement pending "appropriate circumstances that allow its implementation." In other words, the document was produced and signed, which was the most difficult stage. The second stage, implementation, will depend on the ability of Hezbollah to recruit more Salafists via financial incentives and political backing.

Read the whole thing.


At 1:04 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

They may hate each other but they remember is the enemy that unites them all are the infidels... the Jews and the Americans.


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