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The darker side of Hizbollah has now been revealed...

Those across the Arab world who admired Hizbollah for standing up to Israel in the 2006 conflict had hoped that Lebanon's "resistance" wouldn't find itself backing the wrong side in the Syria conflict.

Until recently it had perhaps been possible to believe that Hizbollah could sit on the sidelines. Even if it was obvious which side Hassan Nasrallah supported, at least Hizbollah hadn't got significant amounts of Syrian blood on its hands.

This all changed after the recent fighting in Qusair near Syria's border with Lebanon. Clearly hundreds of Hizbollah fighters had been employed in the fighting and it seems that there were at least 40 Hizbollah fatalities in the remarkably heavy clashes.

Despite being outgunned, Syria's rebels seem to have held their own against hardened Hizbollah fighters and the Syrian army; even if they have lost parts of the town. This says a lot about the passion with which ordinary Syrians are fighting in order to win their freedom.

Hizbollah have found themselves fighting on the side of repression, in order to stamp out any chance of freedom for the Syrian people - what a long way they have come from being an organisation fighting to defend Arab nations against Israeli oppression and occupation.

However, beyond the rhetoric there has always been a very different darker side to Hizbollah.

During peaceful times, it was possible to ignore the fact that the organisation's existence was owed to Iranian funding, making them an arm of Iranian foreign policy in the region. Therefore, Hizbollah operatives were involved in training and supporting pro-Iran militias in Iraq after 2003 - some of whom were implicated in bombing attacks which killed hundreds of Iraqis.

Iran is often unable to act directly in Arab countries; so it is less conspicuous when Hizbollah operatives become involved in Iranian clandestine activity. Therefore it is no surprise when several Lebanese citizens with Hizbollah links are frequently numbered among those arrested in spying rings in Gulf states like Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait.

The Bahraini opposition also has close links with Hizbollah and is highly active from Lebanon. For example, the opposition's media and communications activities bear many pledges of Hizbollah's own propaganda operations, and there was clearly mutual assistance in developing these capabilities.

You only have to watch a few minutes of Hizbollah's Al Manar TV to notice the prominent coverage of Bahraini issues from an opposition perspective - usually with senior Al Wefaq officials appearing one after the other to attack Bahrain's government.

Hizbollah also turned its weapons on fellow Lebanese on numerous occasions in recent years. Undermining its claim to be the first line of defence of Lebanon against foreign aggression, Hizbollah has become the aggressor.

Tripoli, in northern Lebanon, has been in a state of war for some time between Hizbollah and other pro-Syrian regime forces on one side; and anti-regime forces on the other. This conflict has periodically spread to Beirut and elsewhere. If all of Lebanon descends into full-blown civil war, responsibility will rest fully at the front door of Hizbollah and its Iranian backers.

In his recent speech, leader of Hizbollah Hassan Nasrallah defiantly defended Hizbollah's aggression in Syria. Nasrallah declared: "There is no Lebanese state, there are groups in the security apparatus that serve regional powers."

This incredible statement can be read both as an admission and a threat:

First, this is an admission that Hizbollah's existence has prevented the emergence of an effective Lebanese state. By acting as a state within a state and an alternative to a national Lebanese army, Hizbollah has kept Lebanon weak and divided.

The "groups in the security apparatus that serve regional powers" are Hizbollah itself - Hassan Nasrallah has never spoken a truer word.

Secondly, this is a threat: "There is no Lebanese state"; therefore Hizbollah can claim to be the de facto power, with a right to impose itself on all Lebanese in defence of the long arm of Iranian foreign policy - and in defence of Bashar Al Assad.

Hassan Nasrallah would have preferred to sit on the sidelines of the Syrian conflict, so as not to make Hizbollah's hostile objectives transparently obvious to the world.

Hizbollah wants to be able to portray itself as the defender of Arab and Muslim interests against Israel and America - but it has become the oppressor of Arab and Muslim citizens inside Lebanon, Syria and beyond.

With each passing day, the whole region gets closer to a situation of open conflict; as war spreads to Lebanon; dozens die each day in sectarian violence in Iraq; Egypt and Libya remain volatile; and Iranian interference in Gulf states becomes more dangerous.

It was always obvious - although many of us would have liked not to have believed it - which side Hizbollah would take.

There was only one side it could take: The side of the Islamic Republic of Iran against the freedoms, rights and aspirations of millions of Arabs in Syria, Lebanon, Bahrain, Iraq, Yemen and elsewhere. Citizens for Bahrain



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