Wednesday, September 15, 2010

More on the tuffar

From an essential article, "Hizballah's Domestic Growing Pains," by Marlin Dick, via Middle East Report Online.

On Hizballah and the tuffar:

Meanwhile, Hizballah has largely washed its hands of the tuffar -- outlaws in the northern Bekaa Valley involved in cannabis cultivation. The tuffarhave remained aloof from both the government and Hizballah, having retreated to the outer reaches of Lebanon, where they represent more a voice of protest than a plan of action. The popularity of their cause stems from corruption and waste in the central government, the lack of profitable alternatives to drug farming and the specter of nearly 40,000 outstanding warrants hanging over the heads of Bekaa residents. Hizballah leader Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah has demanded an amnesty or another solution to the warrants issue.

During and after the civil war, Syrian military and intelligence officials managed the unruly clans in the northern Bekaa, whose turf battles had a propensity for violence, and since Syria’s 2005 withdrawal, Hizballah has not filled the vacuum. While continuing to sponsor reconciliation between the area’s clans, it has not acted to end the disturbances once and for all. Hizballah is not pulling the strings of the tuffar movement, but rather eyeing it warily as an offshoot of the network of Bekaa tribes it has yet to fully coopt. Perhaps because of the charged sectarian climate of recent years, the party has not lobbied hard for the canceling of outstanding warrants -- a move that would benefit the Shi‘i community. Meanwhile, Hizballah has refused to condone the acts of violent Shi‘i clan members or criminals, or to protect the mini-industry of car theft centered in the village of Barital. Clashes between the Lebanese army and outlaws have become more frequent since Syria’s withdrawal and Hizballah has generally offered its tacit blessing for army intervention in towns like Baalbek, where clan members have engaged in shootouts in the streets, sometimes with rocket-propelled grenades.


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