The apocalyptic imprecations of the oracle of the underworld

And now what do we do? After Hassan Nasrallah’s last incendiary speech, should we panic, laugh, have an anxiety attack, constantly spinning in the sordid Lebanese political contortions? Or shouldn’t it be better to start by clearly identifying and understanding the adversary who set Lebanon on fire and reduced it to a state of mere carrion?

For so many years, we had become accustomed to seeing and hearing Hassan Nasrallah’s speeches, deliberately fomented. Those of the commemoration of Achoura are however distinguished by a particular formalism. The man on the screen is dressed in total black, the solemn and gloomy figure of the angel of the apocalypse, his index finger threatening like a trumpet of death heralding the end of time.

In this commemoration of Achoura (2022EC/1444 Hégire), Hassan Nasrallah has not failed in his own tradition of staging. Frozen, even when he is angry, the secretary general of Hezbollah remains emotionally expressionless. The timbre of the voice rises or falls, invariably monotonous, often strident like lightning. The words fuse, or are vociferated; they spring from the depths of his being without crossing the categories of thought or the images of the psyche. They are there affirming a truth of the present moment. The general impression is that the man who speaks knows what he is doing. Everything is controlled, without any emotion of any kind except the passion of hatred of the enemy, real or fantasized. Not the slightest pity comes to soften and humanize the virulence of the discourse. Is he a psychopath? Would he rather be a sociopath? These are the questions that would interest psychologists. The sociopath, in principle, is impulsive and messy in his passage to the act. The psychopath, on the other hand, is not at all. With him, everything is calculated. The dynamic of hatred, which is its raison d’etre, is not encumbered with any glimmer of hope, of irenic peace, of conviviality, of elementary love of life or of the no less elementary natural goodness, detectable everywhere. in our world even in the wildest beasts. Just watch a mother lioness, hyena, or tigress take care of her cubs. None of this in the agent of God, as he himself recently proclaimed. As for his populist auxiliaries, Christians in particular, they would be rather sociopaths. The mental life of these inspired men, or of this chosen caste, is a long river of tears blackened by inconsolable mourning.

The oracle of God has therefore threatened to practice a scorched earth policy if ever “one” dares to attack the oil and gas riches of Lebanon. He granted himself, by divine right, such a role, no one having entrusted him with such an exterminating mission whereas two weeks earlier he lined up behind the position of the Lebanese State which wishes an honorable solution of the route of the maritime borders. We will recall that Hassan Nasrallah had not shown such concern for Lebanon and its people when he had stored the cargo of ammonium nitrate at the port of Beirut, in the middle of residential neighborhoods. His eyelid did not flinch when the city of Beirut exploded, hundreds of innocent people were killed, tens of thousands were injured, hundreds of thousands were left to wander. Spreading death seems to be a natural mission for him while waiting for the return of the occulted Imam, ruler of the world and master of time.

Where does such an ideology originate? There is a bundle of converging clues that intertwine several philosophical and religious currents. First there is the old gnosis and the millenarianism of the Christian tradition tinged with neoplatonism and ancient hermeticism. Above all, there is the radical dualism of the ancient religions of Iran as well as that of Manichaeism. There are also certain branches of Septiman Shiism, including Nizari Ismailism, not to mention the deadly dolorism of the Western Middle Ages. Other influences can also be invoked. Where could the intertwining of such a proliferation of influences have taken place? The historical geography points to the northern Levant, between the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia. There was born, in the 6th century, the sect of the Paulicians[1], often confused with the Massalians of Northern Syria. This radical neo-Manichean sect would eventually forge a military state around the city of Tephrike in Armenia. The Eastern Roman Empire razed this kingdom in the 9th century and dispersed the Paulicians in Asia Minor and the Balkans. Traces of the sect will be found under different names: Athingans of Asia Minor, Bogomiles of the Balkans, Patarins of Northern Italy, Cathars of southern France, not to mention the spiritual Dolcinians of Piedmont in the 13th century. In the East, Islam will establish in this same region of the Levant, contact with these Paulicians or their heirs. Septiman Shiism reflects these diverse influences among the Nizari Ismailis and Qarmatians who practiced political assassination and spread terror. The sect of the famous Hashashin (Assassins) is a branch of this Persian Ismailism centered on the fortress of Alamut. It will be broken by the Mongol invasion of Hulagu (1258). As for the Qarmatians of Bahrain, bloodthirsty and millenarian, they will be pitilessly crushed by the Fatimids. It is difficult not to detect, in the ideology and culture of the current Iranian regime, of which Hezbollah is an inseparable component, the echoes of these old dualistic and Manichean schools which practiced extreme political violence and whose virulent proselytism had as its purpose of recruiting martyrs.

If for the Septiman Shiism of the Ismailis, now calmed down, the Imam is not hidden but real and visible in the person of the Aga Khan, it is not the same for revolutionary Iranian thought, which exploits Twelver Shiism. The Imam is still hidden there but he remains the invisible and undisputed sovereign of the world, the master of time. In the ideology of the Iranian Islamic revolution, the line of command starts from the cosmic entity, the Imam as a shadow of God, and becomes immanent on earth through his vicar, the jurist-theologian of Qom (al-wali al-faqih), currently Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. In third hierarchical position there was Qassem Suleymani who would have succeeded Hassan Nasrallah in the functions of seneschal or satrap (marzouban) of the immense dystopian project of the Empire-vicariate of the jurisconsult (wilayat al-faqih).

This long sequence of filiations makes it possible to recall that all these historical sects have always abundantly shed the blood of men and disseminated chaos. They all ended up being overcome by violence. This leads us to ask the question whether, in accordance with his imprecations, Hassan Nasrallah would be ready to sacrifice Lebanon and its people to carry out his threats? The answer that historical and ideological filiation provides is affirmative. Yes, he will.

[1] Paul of Samosata lived in the 3rd century CE. He was the adviser of Queen Zenobia of Palmyra but also bishop of Antioch. He was condemned as a heretic by several local councils, but it was not until Emperor Aurelian’s campaign against the princes of Palmyra that he was deposed and excluded from his episcopal functions. His teaching will survive in northern Syria within dualist and Manichean sects including the Paulicians.

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The apocalyptic imprecations of the oracle of the underworld