In an interview with the Balkans Post, Professor Tim Anderson described the German ban on Hezbollah as an “unprovoked act”, linked to the ongoing ‘New Middle East’ wars driven by Washington.
“Germany has participated in the finance and support of terrorist groups and in the ongoing economic war directed against the independent peoples of the Middle East region,” he added.
The transcript of the interview is as follows:
Balkans Post: Germany has recently designated Hezbollah as a “terrorist group” and ordered raids on various mosques and cultural sites allegedly linked to the resistance movement. What’s your thoughts on this act?
Tim Anderson: The German ban on Hezbollah was an unprovoked act, linked to the ongoing ‘New Middle East’ wars driven by Washington. There had been no aggression by Hezbollah against Germany, rather the reverse. Germany has participated in the finance and support of terrorist groups and in the ongoing economic war directed against the independent peoples of the Middle East region. Little regard seems to have been given to Germany’s relations with Lebanon, where a Hezbollah-led coalition maintains substantial representation in both the parliament and the government. The raids on mosques and cultural sites within Germany only does damage to community relations within the German Republic.
Lebanon's foreign minister Nassif Hitti summoned the German ambassador to explain Berlin's decision to ban Hezbollah. He told the Germans that “Hezbollah is a main political component in Lebanon which represents a wide section of the people and part of parliament”. Whether German politicians care about their relations with Lebanon remains to be seen.
The Times of Israel claimed that Mossad gave Berlin intel on Hezbollah operations on German soil (warehouses where terror group stashed materials for explosives, as well as money laundering networks) ahead of the ban, but I believe these claims are just self-serving stories. There are no Hezbollah military operations on German soil, nor have there ever been. Certainly, the Zionists want pressure on Hezbollah, but I think the real pressure has come from the Americans. The Zionist tail does not wag the imperial dog. Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah slammed the German ban as “submission to America’s will”.
BP: Some commentators also say Israel and the United States had been pushing Berlin to ban the resistance movement. What’s your take?
Tim Anderson: It is certainly the case that Washington and its colony in Palestine have been pushing Germany and other nations to ostracize Hezbollah, along with all other resistance groups and independent nations of the region. That includes Syria, Iran, the Ansarallah government in Yemen, all the resistance groups in Palestine and the popular mobilization forces in Iraq.
But let’s look at the German peculiarities. It is significant that the German elite remains under the tutelage of Washington. Within Germany this is known as an ‘Atlanticist’ or NATO elite subculture, dominated by its U.S. mentors and quite alienated from ordinary German people. For example, polls have shown that a very large majority of German people want normal relations with Russia (RT 2016; Taylor 2019); yet this has been relentlessly opposed by the NATO and German elites. There are some tensions in these semi-colonial relations, for example Germany wants to buy Russian gas, against Washington’s wishes. Nevertheless, there is very limited independent will in the Republic. Let’s remember that Germany is still occupied militarily, hosting around 40 U.S. military installations.
So, Germany remains little more than a U.S. puppet, in foreign policy terms. To that we must add the peculiar links between Germany and the Israeli colony. Because of the crimes committed against European Jews by the Nazi regime, a strong penitent culture was established under which the German state not only paid compensation to Jewish families, but also to the apartheid state of Israel, as a representative of Jewish people. That penitent culture has other consequences, not all of them bad. It is quite right that a failed empire expresses remorse for its crimes and renounces its own racist history.
However, in this case, subordination to the Americans and relations established with the Jewish colony in Palestine have prevented the German elite from developing credible, independent relations with Arab and Muslim nations. Even the German left has been crippled by this peculiar and distorted legacy. Whereas most of the Western left these days express some sort of support for the Palestinian people, a section of the German left called the “anti-Germans” have opposed any form of national interest in German policy (a reaction to the history of national chauvinism) and any form of support for Palestinian people, as this seems to run against the burden of contrition owed to the Jewish people, a contrition mistakenly linked to the apartheid state of Israel. These anti-German left groups have violently broken up gatherings to discuss the rights of the Palestinian people (see Fischer 2014).
All this means that discussions of Zionist colonialism have been suppressed and genuine solidarity with the Palestinian people has been hard to find. The legitimacy of resistance to imperialism and Zionism is not widely understood, within Germany. There are some exceptions but we could say generally that even the former colonial powers of the Levant, France and Britain, maintain stronger solidarity links with Palestine. One result has been that the German parliament last year banned any Boycott Divestment and Sanction (BDS) activity aimed at Israel (ABC 2019). The UK Government also tried this, but that move was recently overturned by the British Courts (MEMO 2020).
So, the German state is weak and subservient to the north Americans in foreign policy matters, and additionally vulnerable because of the mistaken translation of its penitence for crimes against the European Jews to support for the Apartheid colony in Palestine.
BP: What’s the significance of Hezbollah?
Tim Anderson: Since it expelled Israel from Southern Lebanon in both 2000 and 2006, Hezbollah’s standing in Lebanon has steadily grown to the point of assuming a leading role in government. The group has forged political relationships across communities and is widely seen as the key defender of Lebanese sovereignty. In late 2018, even Saad Hariri, leader of the Saudi-backed Future Movement and key domestic political opponent of Hezbollah, recognized this fact. Denouncing Israeli threats and incursions into Lebanon, Hariri pointed to the futility of that aggression: “did [previous] Israeli attacks weaken Hezbollah?”, he asked (Press TV 2018).
No serious, independent analyst regards Hezbollah as simply a “terrorist” organization. That is merely the slogan from Washington and Tel Aviv, whose ambitions have been frustrated by the resistance group. British academics Worrall, Mabon and Clubb (2016: 18), who are critical of the group, conclude that “Hezbollah cannot be simply dismissed as a terrorist organization as this underplays the vast legitimacy it has within the Lebanese political system and the vast diversity of its operations and identity”. Indeed, Hezbollah has a solid and well-known geographical home base from which it has defended both Lebanon and Syria from Israel and from the various extremist proxies used by Washington and its allies against the independent peoples of the region.
Hezbollah has been the principal catalyst for internal changes which have begun to vindicate Lebanon as a nation, after decades of sectarianism, chaos and humiliation. The group’s strength in organized resistance and non-sectarian alliances has been gradually changing the face of Lebanese politics. The current Lebanese government comprises a Hezbollah-led Resistance coalition and the Progressive Christians. Hezbollah’s strength is based on commitment, organization and unity.
Even Al Jazeera, the Qatari-owned bastion of the anti-Shia Muslim Brotherhood, admitted in 2017 that the Hezbollah-Christian alliance had strengthened the Lebanese Government, especially in face of the clumsy Saudi kidnapping of its own protégé, Prime Minister Saad Hariri, in November 2017 (Nakhoul, Bassam and Perry 2017). That act was supposed to place some pressure on Hezbollah, but it backfired badly. The “Islamic Resistance” [led by Hezbollah], Al Jazeera acknowledged, “was Aoun’s strongest ally during this period”, and Aoun was seen as “Lebanon’s first strong president since the end of civil war in 1990” (Shebaya 2017). This is despite the fact that the body politic in Lebanon remains crippled by its “confessional” or sectarian system of representation.
The 2019-2020 financial crisis, brought on by external aggressors whose terrorism and “sanctions” have preyed on the small country’s divisions, has exposed the corruption of oligarchs across all religious communities. But Hezbollah’s role in government (if not that of its allies) remains relatively unscathed. Its main role in government remains in the health ministry.
BP: What’s your analysis of the U.S. government’s recent moves in the Middle East, especially with regard to Lebanon, Syria and Iraq?
Tim Anderson: The U.S. government is mired in a series of “New Middle East” wars in which it is failing but seems unable to give up. If we take a serious overview of the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Libya and Palestine we will see there is really just one single war, designed to crush independent political will and to keep the peoples of the region divided and in turmoil. Yet those wars are bringing the resistance forces of the region together. They defend their cultures and will never accept an Israeli-Saudi-led region, the “option” NATO has tried to enforce. That is the theme of my book “Axis of Resistance, towards an independent Middle East”. The English version was published last year by Clarity Press in the U.S. The Arabic version was published in Beirut, earlier this year.
Dr. Tim Anderson is Director of the Sydney-based Centre for Counter Hegemonic Studies. He has worked at Australian universities for more than 30 years, teaching, researching and publishing on development, human rights and self-determination in the Asia-Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East. In 2014 he was awarded Cuba’s medal of friendship. He is Australia and Pacific representative for the Latin America based Network in Defence of Humanity. His most recent books are: Land and Livelihoods in Papua New Guinea (2015), The Dirty War on Syria (2016), now published in ten languages; and Countering War Propaganda of the Dirty War on Syria (2017). His last book is Axis of Resistance, towards an independent Middle East (2019).