"Up until now, Nasrallah was worshipped in the Arab world"
Nabil (not his real name) lives in the outskirts of Damascus.
Nobody in Syria was actually surprised that Iran and Hezbollah would support the Syrian regime: we all know that those three power circles have traditionally been close. But Hassan Nasrallah’s public statement of support got protesters really angry, and new anti-Hezbollah slogans began making their way into demonstrations.
This is a new and striking phenomenon: up until now, Nasrallah was worshipped in the Arab world. He was seen as a hero of anti-Israeli resistance, especially after he freed South Lebanon from Israeli occupation in 2000.
Today, Nasrallah has chosen the Syrian regime over the Syrian people. His main argument is the Assad family’s firm anti-Israeli stance and support of Hezbollah as it was branded a terrorist organization by the West. What’s more, the regime accuses protesters of being traitors manipulated by Israel and foreign powers as a way of discrediting the protest movement. By pitching Bashar al-Assad as the defender of the Arab cause, Damascus ensured itself of Nasrallah’s support.
These renewed tensions risk turning into religious divergences between Shiites and Sunnis. Just because Hezbollah is a mainly Shiite movement doesn’t mean that these news slogans are directed against Syria’s Shiite minority (about 10% of the population). The government plays on Sunni-Shiite / Arab-Kurd difference to divide the population, but we have to remain united. I think protesters understand this: one of their main slogans is ‘all together, hand in hand!”
Protesters in Douma burning Iranian and Chinese flags. Video shot on June 1 and published on YouTube.
In Homs, protesters chant anti-Khomeini slogans and shout: "Neither Iran, nor Hezbollah !" Video shot on June 1 and posted on YouTube.