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What Will Hezbollah Do? An Interview with Magnus Ranstorp

15/06/2009

I CSR: What was your first reaction after the Lebanese parliamentary elections last week, which saw Hezbollah lose against the pro-Western coalition?

Magnus Ranstorp: It must have been a great surprise to them. From what I hear, they’re disappointed. They were suprised that they didnt’ do better, but they expected that they would have to adjust. Hassan Nasrallah accepts the results as long as there is national unity – as long as they protect Hezbollah’s project.

ICSR: How do you think President Obama’s speech in Cairo influenced the result?

MR: It made the rhetoric of Nasrallah and Hezbollah look ridiculous in relation to the hand of peace being stretched out by Obama. Also, and importantly, Obama criticized Israel regarding the expansion of settlements – that was a very important signal.

ICSR: What will Hezbollah do now? What’s their next step? Do they feel threatened by the results?

MR:They are willing to be conciliatory, they accept the results, they accept the project, but at the same time they’re building up their arsenal. The Israelis are complaining that they are ready to be used in another military adventure.

ICSR: What can the upcoming elections in Iran change?

MR:They don’t have an impact on the Hezbollah’s project at all. The two candidates standing against Ahmadinejad are long-standing Hezbollah supporters. In fact they were personally responsible for the growth and establishment of Hezbollah. If there’s another president with Moussavi and others who are going to be in power, who are reformists, I don’t think that will influence their support and their guidance to the Hezbollah over the long term.