Realities of Resistance: Hizballah, the Palestinian Rejectionists, and al-Qa`ida Compared
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In the U.S.-led “global war on terrorism,” al-Qa‘ida and its militant affiliates have come to serve as both symbol and explanatory matrix for a range of disparate militant groups in the Middle East and beyond. Included among these are the Palestinian rejectionist factions and the Lebanese Hizballah, despite the fact that their roots, worldviews, and agendas are inimical to those of al-Qa‘ida. This article argues that the scholarly and political effort to lump together diverse resistance groups into a homogenous “terrorist enemy,” ultimately symbolized by Osama Bin Laden, is part and parcel of neocolonial power politics whereby all “native” struggles against established power structures are placed beyond reason and dialogue. The authors contend that while the Palestinian rejectionist factions and the Lebanese Hizballah may be understood as local representations of the anticolonial “third worldist” movement, al-Qa‘ida and its affiliates operate within a “neo–third worldist” framework, a dichotomy that entails tactical and strategic differences, both political and military. The article draws on an extensive series of author interviews with leaders and cadres from Hizballah and the Palestinian factions.
ANDERS STRINDBERG is the United Nations correspondent for Jane’s Intelligence Review and a consultant on Middle East security. MATS WARN ¨ is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science at Stockholm University. The authors are co-founders of the Levant Center for Documentation.