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Who Is Hasan Nasrallah?

Monday, July 17, 2006

In the Arab world, Hasan Nasrallah is an exceptional man. In an age of dull orators and boring Arab officialdom, Nasrallah, in the eyes of many Arabs, stands as one of the few charismatic, honest, and appealing figures in the Middle East. His inflammatory speeches have done wonders for the moral of his followers since he liberated South Lebanon from Israeli occupation in May 2000. He has earned a reputation -- among enemy and ally alike -- as a man who keeps his word. He promised to liberate the South and he did in 2000. He promised to bring back Lebanese prisoners from Israel jails in 2004 and he did. He promised to strike deep into Israeli territory in 2006 and he did. Many Arabs today compare him to Gamal Abdul-Nasser, the late president of Egypt and godfather of Arab nationalism, who fought two wars against Israel in 1956 and 1967. Nasser, like Nasrallah, was young and defiant, revolutionary, and highly charismatic. Both were excellent orators and both had a massive following in the Arab world. Like Nasser in 1952-1970, Nasrallah today is viewed as a selfless and uncorrupted leader who firmly believes in a cause and has mobilized his life and country for its purpose. However, hundreds of books and articles were written about Nasser, making him a legend during in his own lifetime. And this literature increased threefold after his early death in 1970. Nasrallah also has become a legend in his own lifetime. But apart from what has surfaced in the press over the past week, little -- very little -- is known about the 46-year-old man who has just ignited a new war in the Middle East.

The Beginnings ...

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