Assad Takes Hezbollah Down with Him

Propping up dictators in a region gripped by democracy fever. A Hezbollah implosion approaches.

In Egypt, for example, new political movements want to contest Israel by cutting off intelligence cooperation and natural gas sales, opening the border to Gaza and supporting Palestinian movements like Hamas. Such a policy might cause concern in Jerusalem and Washington, but it also offers the Arab world a path to resist Israel that falls far short of Hezbollah’s recipe of direct and perpetual militancy.

Until now, Hezbollah has remained popular throughout the region because of its resistance project, despite an authoritarian and Islamist internal culture that many outside the party’s immediate ambit find distasteful. In a vigorous marketplace of political ideas, Hezbollah’s share might shrink markedly.

Although Hezbollah is at a peak in terms of military and political power, it is fast coming under scrutiny for siding with repressive dictatorships in Iran and Syria even as the rest of the Arab world is engaged in cataclysmic political change. It will have a lot of explaining to do to its core activists and casual supporters about its choices at this historical moment. That conundrum, more than any other, could prove Hezbollah’s undoing.