Powered by WebAds

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Hezbullah endangering both Syria and Lebanon

In the previous post, I noted that Lebanon understands that if Hezbullah attacks Israel from its territory, Lebanon will suffer. While Lebanon gets it, Hezbullah could care less. Moreover, it is possible that even if Hezbullah attacks Israel from Syria, Israel may respond by hitting Lebanon. Israel is also threatening that if it is dragged into the conflict in Syria, it might just put an end to the Assad regime. In the meantime, Hezbullah cannot stop bragging about its activities in Syria. This is from the second link, a lengthy analysis by Lee Smith.
The throngs attending the younger Mughniyeh’s funeral on January 19 yelled “Death to America” only once. “I counted,” says Lokman Slim, an anti-Hezbollah Shiite activist. “And they said ‘Death to Israel’ only a few times. Then they went to more religious slogans.”
According to Slim, the scaled-down rhetoric and modest size of the funeral are evidence that Hezbollah is caught in a bind. “The [Lebanese Shiites] don’t want another war with Israel,” says Slim, “but they also want to know Hezbollah can protect them like it says.”
“The Shia are supposed to side with justice against injustice,” says Slim. “Shia stand with the underdog. And now Hezbollah is fighting alongside a dictatorial regime.” Moreover, Hezbollah has also staked the Shiites to a position against the regional Sunni majority in a war whose best outcome, says Slim, can only be a political settlement. “Hezbollah will have fought this war, and at the end the Shia will ask to what purpose did we sacrifice so much?” The worst outcome, says Slim, is a war that won’t end.
“Maybe trauma,” says Slim, “is the only way back from divinity.” Maybe. We’re on the road heading south to the Shiite heartland to see.
Outside of Lebanon’s Shiite regions, it is very difficult to get a sense of how profoundly the war in Syria has injured the community. Exactly how many Lebanese Shiites have been killed there is unknown—high-end estimates are more than a thousand in the last two years—or even how many are fighting. Slim says the numbers miss the point. “Let’s say there are 3,000 Hezbollah combatants in Syria, but then take into account all the other things you need, everything from intelligence to logistics, and there are perhaps 20,000 committed to the war. For instance, a father and his two sons have a bulldozer, and Hezbollah needs them and their machine in Syria, so they pay them double to be there.”
Hezbollah is unaccustomed to waging a long war of attrition like this, far from the Lebanese villages where it fought guerrilla wars against Israel. To be sure, its fighters are becoming a battle-hardened expeditionary force, but the nature of the war is reconfiguring Shiite society.
“Boys are dropping out of school to join the fight,” says Slim. “They enjoy the benefits of manhood earlier than before, but it’s becoming a community without men, or men who are simply on leave from Syria and waiting to return. The result,” he says smiling, “is that the women will become more powerful.”
Black humor underlines how far Hezbollah has fallen from its divine status. “We have the phenomenon of the widows of the fighters killed in Syria,” says Slim, “beautiful young girls being courted by the organization’s senior officials. ‘Hey, if you need anything, just text me. And if it’s evening, you can reach me on Whatsapp, too.’ ”
The fact that Israel presumably weighed Hezbollah’s predicament before striking the Mughniyeh/Allahdadi convoy—how the scope of its deployment in Syria limited its ability to avenge its fallen—is one of several indignities Nasrallah has to swallow. There’s also the ongoing issue of treason. Not long before the strike in the Golan, Hezbollah disclosed that it had found a spy in its ranks, Mohamed Shawarba, a high-ranking official who allegedly worked for the Mossad. If Hezbollah was eager to boast of its ability to root out traitors, Israel’s operation—netting major Hezbollah and Iranian figures—suggests that its counterintelligence wing has plenty of work left to do, because the organization is still riddled with spies.
We discuss whether Nasrallah will retaliate for last week’s attack and, if so, when and how. Will there be rocket fire from Lebanon, terrorist operations abroad, an IED on the border targeting Israeli troops, or an operation from the Golan? The last, which would come from Syrian territory, seems safest to most of the Lebanese I’ve spoken with. However, it’s worth considering that Israel may have struck not because of an urgent threat near Quneitra, but rather to prevent Iran and Hezbollah from opening another front from which to attack Israel.
The Israelis have been watching the Syrian border with concern. Given Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reputation for being risk averse, it’s notable that he chose to risk the possibility of war with elections only two months away. Clearly, the Israeli government will not allow Iran to use the Golan as a launching pad, and firing on Israel from there in retaliation would effectively make it a second front. Accordingly, chances are that an Israeli response, in any escalation, would target Hezbollah in Lebanon, with the south again bearing the brunt of the conflict, likely including, according to Israeli strategists, a large ground operation.
That's the first I've heard of a possible Israeli ground operation in Lebanon, but it's not too surprising. Israel may want to hit Hezbullah while it's down. Read the whole thing.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said on Sunday that Israel will not hesitate to unseat the Assad regime if Hezbullah turns the Golan into a second front.
While Israel prepared for the fallout from last week's elimination of a top Hezbollah terrorist and an Iranian general on the Golan Heights, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon had a message for anyone planning to attack Israel from the direction of Syria: Israel would hold Damascus responsible for any “revenge attacks” coming from Syrian territory, to the extent that Jerusalem would side itself with forces seeking to unseat Bashar Assad from the leadership of Syria, if necessary.
Tensions remained high in northern Israel in the aftermath of the elimination of Jihad Mughniyeh, said to be Hezbollah's “commander of the Golan Heights area,” along with a crew of Hezbollah terrorists, and Iranian general Abu Ali Tabtabai. Roads in the area of the Israel-Lebanon border have been closed, and tanks and armored personnel carriers were reportedly deployed along the northern border. Lebanese media outlets are reporting Israeli jets and helicopters over the Har Dov area along the Lebanese border.
 In light of all this, it's a bit bizarre that Hezbullah would release a video of its activities in Syria.

Labels: , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home