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What has Hezbollah’s Secretary General been reading this summer?

8 August 2014

In Britain we seem to be obsessed by what our politicians are reading this summer. It tells us, so we think, about the way they’re thinking or perhaps just what they want us to think they’re thinking. Why don’t we study what other political leaders are interested in? Lebanon’s Daily Star offered us a revealing vision of one regional actor, Hezbollah’s Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

Sitting with Lebanon’s veteran Druze leader, Walid Jumblatt, in late July, Nasrallah has a copy of James Barr’s A Line in the Sand in front of him. The book, one of the best researched and most readable studies of the making of the modern near east (read The Spectator’s review here), offers a tantalising glimpse of what might have been. Barr sets out Lawrence of Arabia’s vision of what the region could have looked like if the tribal lines matched national boundaries.

It isn’t clear from the photograph whether the book is light reading to pass the time between meetings, or a gift from Jumblatt, but it is interesting that the Iranian-backed cleric is thinking about today’s borders.

He isn’t alone. In Iraq, his paymasters are manipulating President Maliki in such a way that a split is becoming inevitable. Already the Kurdish autonomy is independence in all but name, and the so-called Islamic State is more powerful than the Iraqi Army.

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These Salafist murderers started off by killing more Muslims than anyone else after declaring those who don’t share their view of Islam as apostates. But now they have started to redraw the borders completely. Their ethnic cleansing, rape and taking women into slavery is creating new realities in the region.

They see no division between their lands in Syria and Iraq, nor do they exclude Jordan, Saudi Arabia or Kuwait from their vision of conquest. Indeed those who have been paying them, supporting their jihad against Shia-backed regimes under President Assad in Syria and Maliki in Iraq, are beginning to realise that they may be caught up in the whirlwind of change themselves.

After all, as Barr reminds Nasrallah, the boundaries they are shaking are new. Barely 90 years ago they were meaningless, as nomads crossed them without knowing they were there and control rested solely on the allegiances people gave. Some, sensibly, gave multiple allegiances to allow them free movement. Few accepted concepts like nationality that could divide them.

So as today’s allegiances break down and fracture, it will be interesting to know what that means for the old rivalries. Will the Rashidis of Hail, once backed by the Turks (until the Ottomans lost the first world war), seek their revenge on the then British-backed Sauds? Will the Shia populations of the Gulf States and eastern seaboard of Saudi Arabia get the chance to add some new borders of their own?

There are no clear answers to these questions, so perhaps it is good that people are beginning to think about the alternatives. I would be interested to know who, as well as Nasrallah is thinking about the changes in the region, and perhaps one indicator would be how many are studying their history. Now that’s one useful thing Amazon could tell us.

Tom Tugendhat is Director of Lashkar & Co

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Show comments
  • shirzad
  • WinstonCDN

    Can he even read?

  • Donafugata

    It is doubtful that there will ever be peace in the region.

    None of the Arabs will accept Israel’s right to exist, they all use the most unholy, holy book and adapt it to suit their own basest instincts and they all have very long memories and hold ancient grudges.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Truly chilling and the SWP-sponsored idiots here are worried about Israel:-

    Also watch the creepy indoctrination of children in part 2 – not a woman in sight. They appear to be a deranged gang of brutal and heavily armed mediaeval barbarians holding a larger and apathetic population in fear.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Matthew D’Ancona:-

    “Israel is bigger than Gaza and the West Bank, but it is smaller than almost everywhere else. Less than a century old, it is a democracy surrounded by hostile nations and under permanent attack by terrorists who wish to see it wiped from the surface of the Earth. What is a “proportionate” response to a hydra-like enemy who sees the Final Solution as work in progress? All terrorism aimed at Israel is genocidal in spirit. What would a “proportionate” response to that ambition look like?”

    • Inverted Meniscus

      To a British leftist or Labour Party supporter a “proportionate response” by Israel would be to do nothing but sit back and allow themselves to be killed.

      • Colonel Mustard

        Frankly, under Labour place man and marxist revolutionary Starmer’s legacy CPS, the prosecution wing of the Labour party, I’m surprised that the num who pulled down the ISIS flag has not been arrested yet.

        Meanwhile police are supposedly “investigating” Galloway’s incitement to racial hatred. How long will that take and will the inevitable decision not to prosecute him ever be made public?

        • Inverted Meniscus

          Personally, I doubt if the police are doing any such thing in respect of Galloway. I suspect that by saying they are “investigating” they are actually telling the public to “get lost because we cannot run the risk of upsetting these people but wish to give the impression we are taking this matter seriously”.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Sadly I think you are probably correct.

    • Kaine

      Were you in favour of the bantustans Colonel?

      • Colonel Mustard

        You mean was I in favour of apartheid in South Africa? Why not just ask that instead of sly innuendo?

        The answer is NO.

        And that has absolutely nothing to do with Mr D’Ancona’s observation about Israel and everything to do with the latest left wing propaganda-demonisation script. A manipulative shock horror trigger word to demonise your opponents. APARTHEID.

        You want apartheid?

        • Kaine

          I meant what I said. You didn’t answer.

          And you don’t get to accuse me of using a trigger word, and condemn me for not using the word.

          Expected better. Ah well.

          • Colonel Mustard

            “And you don’t get to accuse me of using a trigger word, and condemn me for not using the word.”

            Oh yes I do, and I did. The trigger word was “bantustans”.

            “The Bantustans were a major administrative device for the exclusion of blacks from the South African political system under the policy of apartheid, or racial segregation.”

            “The word “bantustan”, today, is often used in a pejorative sense when describing a region that lacks any real legitimacy, consists of several unconnected enclaves, and/or emerges from national or international gerrymandering.”

            I didn’t expect better from you. It was pretty much par for the course. You have to win and you have to win by demonstrating your supposed moral superiority and demonising anyone who disagrees with you.

            • Kaine

              What word would you use to describe the state of the Palestinian territories?

          • Inverted Meniscus

            Sanctimonious leftist idiot.

            • Kaine

              Nil points for creativity darling.

              • Inverted Meniscus

                Sanctimonious leftist idiot.

          • Hamburger

            Is no not an answer?

            • Kaine

              I didn’t ask him whether he was in favour of apartheid as a whole, I asked a specific question about the bantustans which he declined to answer, preferring to hide behind fake outrage. Ironic considering he spends most of his time here accusing “leftists” of doing precisely that.

              • Hamburger

                One is the consequence of the other so in this case his answer made sense.

                • Kaine

                  Not at all. Apartheid existed in South Africa before the bantustans, and you could have the bantustan system without the additional aparatus of apartheid. You might approve of the creation of tribal ‘homelands’ while objecting to colour-based oppression within the remaining state.

                  Since our dear Colonel declined to tell us WHY he opposed the apartheid system, preferring to sulkily accuse me of emotional blackmail, it would be wrong of me to assume an answer on his part.

                • Hamburger


  • lookout

    Lawrence worked with Kim Philbys father, a Muslim communist who hated Britain, their idea for the middle east didn’t allow for the Jews, no wonder the Hezbollah man was reading it

    • Kaine

      What do you mean ‘didn’t allow for’? Zionism itself was deeply controversial in the Jewish community in 1918, and continues to be opposed by several of the most orthodox communities to this day.

      • lookout

        “The Secret War Against The Jews by John Loftus and Mark Arrons explains 45per cent, “can a nation be formed in one day” answer, yes. The promises of God to the Jews that they would be regathered to their homeland in the last days, despite massive opposition and constant war. 55 percent. It’s nothing to do with Zionism, it’s to do with reality

        • Kaine

          Yeah, you don’t get to talk about reality while citing prophecy.

  • evad666

    Several hundred ISIS supporters were radicalized here in the UK during Labour’s love in with Islam.
    When is the threat here at home going to be cauterized?

  • Frank

    We should be applying sanctions to Qatar and continuing those on Iran until both countries cease to fund external terrorist organisations.

    • McRobbie

      And instead the world cup is going to qatar..thanks to blatter the pratter and some bribes of course despite the fact the islamist terrorists will present a real and present danger to western football supporters…oh yes and its too hot to play football anyway.

      • Alexsandr

        if we can deffo prove Quatar is involved in Hamas/ISIS then we should give notice the UK FA wont be going.

  • Augustus

    Apparently, the Islamic State group considers the Yazidis in Iraq devil-worshippers. ISIS is turning these kaffirs into conquered slaves. Yazidi girls are raped, abused and traded. How long is the West going to allow this barbarism to last? Christians and Yazidis are no threat to the ISIS thugs. They don’t shoot at them and do not use armed resistance of any kind against them. And those who shun violence in the Middle East are always in danger of being crushed. The West must act to protect these minorities. We have the means to bomb ISIS strongholds, allowing the Kurds get a fair chance to fight them on the ground to protect these endangered minorities.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Waiting to see the SWP-sponsored mob protests against ISIS as a criminal apartheid state with demands for war crimes trials. I expect to wait indefinitely.

    • artemis in france

      Read Doiuglas Murray’s latest blog and stop worrying about what’s happening in Iraq. British troops need to be on the streets of their own country, defending the rights of the indigenous population (those who aren’t Muslim, that is) from those who are and who wish to perpétuate ISIS ideology in the UK. Never mind about raping Yazidi woman. How long before it is the daughters of non-Muslims in Britain who are singled out?

      • DazEng

        Agreed, but Yazidis are also non muslim

      • jesseventura2

        Referendum on returning muslim immigrants to countries of origin will win number ten for the party who promises this?

      • The Masked Marvel

        It’ll be the Jewish daughters first, now that the BBC have given in to internal pressure and are actively inciting hatred against Jews.

      • Span Ows

        “How long before it is the daughters of non-Muslims in Britain who are singled out?”

        They already are! I am surprised that you and others have already forgotten the grooming scandals perpetrated in dozens of English towns and with a common aggressor. This problem hasn’t gone away but most reporting of it has.

        • Kaine

          Dozens? There was Rochdale, which was the fault of nice, white, middle-class social workers who thought that working class 14 year old girls weren’t worth looking after. Rochdale has had a problem with endemic tolerated child abuse for the last thirty years at least, without any ‘common aggressor’. Unless your contention is Cyril Smith was a secret Muslim?

          Feel free to give me any examples. N.B. If you have a large gang where one of them happens to be a Muslim, that doesn’t count.

          • Colonel Mustard
            • Kaine

              Oxford is the only case mentioned in detail. That isn’t “dozens”. Feel free to read Daniel trilling’s rather exhaustive piece on Rochdale. Further, the Telegraph article mentions how exactly the same thing happens to girls from some Muslim backgrounds.

              I’m perfectly happy to say that all misogynistic scum who rape women and girls should be locked up. (Personally I’d like to give their victim an hour with a baseball bat while the rapist is tied to a chair but heyho). I’m perfectly willing to say that there remain many communities in which women are seen as second class, and this needs to be eradicated.

              It is of course interesting to note however than whenever feminism or rape culture are mentioned on these pages and the guilty parties are not Muslims, I see a stream of comments saying how these women are all complaining about nothing. I hope I won’t see you amongst them Colonel.

              • Span Ows

                “It is of course interesting to note however than whenever feminism or rape culture are mentioned on these pages and the guilty parties are not Muslims, I see a stream of comments saying how these women are all complaining about nothing.”

                I suspect this is untrue.

                I agree entirely with your 2nd paragraph.

                • Kaine

                  Our dear Colonel himself on an article by Ed West in March.

                  “The latest Europlan to criminalise psychological harm in a
                  “controlling” domestic relationship is clearly propositioned with women as the eternal victims again. But in the UK it is apparent that in 99%+ of relationships women do most of the “controlling”.

                  New kitchens anyone?”

          • Span Ows

            Unbelievable: you think Pakistani men grooming girls is the fault of white, middle class social workers…I can hear it now: “she was asking for it dressed like that”, “he shouldn’t have been walking in that area”, “everyone knows that was a no-go area”…any of those phrases passed your lips Kaine? I would bet they had.

            What about Rotherham, Telford, Oxford, Derby…

            “Mohammed Shafiq, chief executive of the Ramadhan Foundation, accused elders of the Pakistani community of “burying their heads in the sand” on the matter of sexual grooming. He said that of 68 recent convictions involving child sexual exploitation, 59 were of British Pakistani men and it was a significant problem for that community”…

            Is your head buried in the sand? It certainly seems so. Of the 11 non Pakistanis guess how many were also Moslem?


            • Kaine

              You’ve spectacularly missed my point. It is in fact the social workers who took the view you’re ascribing to me, that these girls were not worth protecting. So you would lose that bet darling.

              Rochdale has had this problem with child protection for decades; care homes in the eighties, satanic abuse scandals in the early nineties, Cyril Smith…

              Or was he secretly a Muslim?

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