JIHADI MEDIA STRATEGIES….Hezbollah is both a Shiite group and a jihadist group. So what do Sunni jihadis think of it? Do they oppose Hezbollah because they’re uneasy over the potential “Shia-ization” of the jihad, or do they support them out of solidarity with anyone willing to give Israel a black eye?
Marc Lynch suggests that although the Sunni-Shia debate has, overall, been “a bit of a red herring” ? because, in the end, pretty much everyone ended up praising Hezbollah ? the jihadi community is the one place where it’s alive and raging:
This rift between a mainstream Arab public (which dismisses Sunni-Shia differences in favor of populist mobilization against Israel, America, and their own regimes) and a much more doctrinaire jihadist community fits well within the “Al-Qaeda Media Strategies” argument I put out there a few months ago. At that time I argued that al-Qaeda Central (OBL and Zawahiri) preferred to use mass media to reach out to the “median Arab” while Zarqawi and the new hard-core jihadis preferred online media aimed at an already mobilized base. Some of that same dynamic is playing out with regard to Lebanon and Hezbollah. Zawahiri has tried to appropriate the Lebanese struggle, because that’s where the median Arab-Muslim is, while many within the on-line communities are sticking to their doctrinal guns and denouncing Hezbollah no matter how unpopular that position may be with wider publics.
So: appeal to swing voters or concentrate on turning out the base? It’s not just American political parties that fight over this.
And the end result? Marc’s guess is that over time Hezbollah will eventually fade away into its usual regional role: “And when that happens, what will be left is a more radicalized Arab and Muslim public, angrier with America and Israel, more open to the possibility of violent resistance, and more open to Islamist politics. In other words, in the medium term al-Qaeda benefits from the war because it furthers its ‘clash of civilizations’ agenda.”