Lebanon: Ayatollah Fadlallah's Death and the Expansion of Iranian Hegemony

(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Shimon Shapira - Shiite religious leader Sayyed Muhammed Hussein Fadlallah played a leading role in the increasing Islamic radicalization of Lebanese Shiites and laid the foundations for Hizbullah's ideology of violent struggle against the West and Israel. He endowed the need to employ violence with religious sanction. When Islamic radicalism blew in from Khomeini's Tehran in the 1980s and swept up the Shiites in Lebanon into jihad against Israel and the West, Fadlallah provided them with a guide. He served as a leading ideologue and supplied an organized doctrine for the mujahid who is ready to sacrifice his life for the Imam. According to Fadlallah, "Death for those (Muslim fighters) is not a tragedy....Death has been transformed into a carefully calculated step that is not predicated on emotion. Death does not exist together with despair. The objectives and goals remain alive." It came as no surprise that Fadlallah praised the murder of eight innocent Jewish students at the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem in 2008. Yet it is also true that Fadlallah displayed a measure of political courage in opposing the aspirations of Iran to establish an Islamic republic in Lebanon. Fadlallah was not prepared to recognize the status of Iran's Khamenei as vilayat-i faqih (rule of jurisprudent) because he did not view him as sufficiently learned, and also because he opposed this principle that had been invented by Ayatollah Khomeini. Fadlallah's death removes one of the major obstacles to Iran's quest to establish an Islamic republic in its own image in Lebanon. Indeed, Iran and Hizbullah are already acting to incorporate Fadlallah's memory under their auspices, as though they were always a part of his flesh and blood. Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Dr. Shimon Shapira is a senior research associate at the Jerusalem Center.

2010-07-21 08:54:03

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