Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Success with the IRA is Not a Reason to Legitimize Hezbollah

Oded Haklai, a professor of political studies at Queen's University, writes a column in The Ottawa Citizen responding to suggestions that Hezbollah be removed from Canada's list of banned terrorists by addressing the comparison made between Hezbollah and the IRA. Hezbollah, like the IRA--goes the argument--has both a political as well as a military wing. More importantly, if the British government had not openned up talks with the political wing of the IRA, the conflict in Northern Ireland would likely have continued.

According to Haklai, the comparison is weak.

1. The IRA was resisting the British occupatoin of Northern Ireleand, its goal was the liberation of Northern Ireland, not the destruction of England. But Hezbollah is not resisting any occupation--Israel withdrew 6 years ago. Actually, Hezbollah is the proxy of Syria and Iran, who are interfering in the internal affairs of Lebanon.

Hezbollah itself challenges the authority of the Lebanese government, by virtue of its independent 'militia'. The political arm of Hezbollah, even with the provision of social services, does not negate that chanllenge.

2. In Northern Ireland, the autonomy and independence of the people living there led the way to a negotiated political solution. But in the case of Hezbollah, its stated objectives as well as its association with Iran clearly show that its hostility towards Israel is not open to any such negotiated political solution.

Haklai does not offer a long list of reasons, but his points are sound.

Canada is listening.

But who will Europe listen to?

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