Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hassan Nasrallah and Hugo Chavez: What Does it Mean?

In this brief clip the leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, calls Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez "brother." North America's right-wing uses speeches like this to create fear of a South American (Leftist) collaboration with Islamic terrorism. This is a distortion of the matter. Yet, it is true that some US leftists view Lebanon's Hezbollah, and even the current Iranian regime, as heroically anti-imperialist. At a wedding last summer I spoke with a few Iranian-American Communists that were outraged with the human rights abuses by the Islamic Republic of Iran. They also expressed annoyance with American leftists that sympathized with Islamist movements simply due to their solidarity with Latin American populist/leftist movements. One man told me, "It is an economic relationship not an ideological one." However this is viewed, several points of interest emerge. Nasrallah is a Shiite Muslim and yet very popular with Sunni Muslims and secular Arabs. Nasrallah even finds support among some Lebanese Christians. Hugo Chavez, a man who wears red, quotes Marx, and calls for a Cuban styled revolution in Venezuela, enjoys many anti-Marxist Muslim supporters. What this demonstrates is that political alliances are tentative and based on immediate circumstances. It also puts into question the relevance of official ideologies. To make a sophisticated politcal analysis always requires examinations beyond mere formalities.

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