Nabih Berri is Lebanon’s speaker of parliament. His political party, Amal, is a secular Shia movement and a corrupt political machine with a small and not terribly fearsome militia. It is aligned with Hezbollah and Bashar al-Assad’s Baath Party regime in Syria. Berri dispatched men to fight alongside Hezbollah during its invasion of Beirut in May 2008. He is as staunch an ally of Hezbollah as the Party of God could ever dream of acquiring from a secular Lebanese party even if he and its secretary general Hassan Nasrallah are both at least nominal Shias.
Yet Berri wished to see Hezbollah destroyed by the Israel Defense Forces in 2006.
WikiLeaks recently published a diplomatic cable from Lebanon describing Berri’s “pleasure” and “laughter” as Israeli military hardware pummeled his supposed ally from the skies.
“Berri condemned the ferocity of Israel’s military response,” the cable says, “but admitted that a successful Israeli campaign against Hezbollah would be an excellent way to destroy Hezbollah’s military aspirations and discredit their political ambitions…We are certain that Berri hates Hezbollah as much, or even more, than the [Western-backed] March 14 politicians; after all, Hezbollah’s support… is drawn from the Shiites who might otherwise be with Berri.”
Leaders of the March 14 coalition of anti-Syrian and anti-Hezbollah parties tried in vain for years to peel Berri away from Hezbollah. Most assumed they failed for sectarian reasons as Amal and Hezbollah are both Shia, but apparently, if the leaked cable is accurate, Berri just didn’t want to be car-bombed.
We’ll see how much longer he lasts now that this information has been made public. And we’ll see how long Hezbollah lasts on the day its bullied allies no longer fear it.