Hezbollah supporters are incapable of seeing that Assir’s group is the mirror image of Hezbollah
In many ways, Hezbollah, the well organised military force with strategic thinking and regional reach, is very different from the ragtag band of clumsy and reactive gun holders who support sheikh Ahmad el Assir (and similar, less known figures in Sunni Lebanon).
Just putting the two together in an argument is quickly dismissed as either a sign of amateurism or an act of sectarian provocation, especially by supporters of Hezbollah –many of whom are my friends– who are insulted by the very act of comparing the two. They are quick to note that Hezbollah’s stated objectives is the fighting of an enemy (Israel), while Assir’s outbursts are nakedly sectarian.
I submit to many of the logical arguments for why Hezbollah is different than Al-Assir’s thugs, even if I dispute the assertion that Hezbollah is a force for good in the country.
But “reality” is beside the point.
In Lebanon nowadays, all that matters is perception and base instincts. What is true is that to many in Lebanon, there is absolutely no difference between “bearded Shiaas with guns” and “bearded Sunnis with guns”. The only difference is the one that is on your side.
When my friends, Hezbollah’s supporters, look at Ahmed el Assir and his armed men and feel sick to their stomach with disgust, I hope they realize that this is exactly what many Sunnis feel when they see Hezbollah.