08/28/2006, 00.00
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Shiites increasingly critical of Hezbollah, its so-called 'victory' and its ties to Iran

The mufti of Tyre accuses Hezbollah and its militia of having thoughtlessly taken the country into war. Most Lebanese want to see Hezbollah disarmed.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Hezbollah is increasingly coming in for criticism for taking the country into war and causing untold suffering for the residents of southern Lebanon and the southern neighbourhoods of Beirut. The Shiite mufti of Tyre has gone so far as to disagree with the radical militia's claim of "victory" over Israel "given the losses we endured."

In villages in the south destroyed by Israeli air strikes, many survivors are timidly talking about how their homes were used to hide weapons and rockets. In some places, up to 90 per cent of the residents, even those with Shia majorities, are expressing their opposition to Hezbollah.

Sayyed Ali el-Amin, the mufti of Tyre and Jabal Amel, is voicing this growing restlessness. Speaking to various TV stations and newspapers (like An Nahar), he rebuked Hezbollah for dragging the country into a war with the population unprepared. He pointed out that "the fact that Shiites fled goes to show that they were not in favour of the war."

The mufti, who is one of the leading religious figures in the Shia community, has also rejected Hezbollah's claims of "victory". In an interview with LBC, he said: "We cannot speak of victory. [. . .] Our losses are far greater than those of the enemy."

The Shia leader also slammed Hezbollah for its position and ties with Iran, insisting that "all non-Hezbollah political groups and institutions within the Shia community do not believe in Iran's wilayat al-fakih (rule by political-religious authorities) system" and its political orientation.

Although, according to the Mufti, Hezbollah is not likely to be totally free from Tehran's influence, he did say that he hopes that at least its ties of subordination might lessen.

"Let us hope," he stressed, "that Iran will come to realise that in their own countries, Shiites have their national traits and that relations with Iran must be state-to-state and not through a party or an individual."

And most Lebanese seem to agree. Results from a survey published in today's L'Orient Le-Jour, Beirut's French daily, show that 88 per cent of Lebanese (89 per cent among Shiites) do not want to see Lebanon involved in regional conflicts, and 51 per cent want to see Hezbollah lay down its weapons.

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