Lebanon: Hizbullah intervention in Syria redraws political map

28th May 2013

By Ibrahim Al-Amin

Al-Akhbar: Relations between the Bashar al-Assad regime in Damascus and the Lebanese Resistance had already reached a high-level of coordination and mutual support even before the outbreak of the Syrian crisis. At the time, the two allies tended to respect each others’ boundaries, recognizing each other’s key roles in the region.

The onset of the Syrian crisis only served to further intertwine their interests as both became targets of the Syrian opposition and their regional and international backers.

In the early stages of the uprising, Hezbollah tried to play the role of mediator, seeking ways to open up channels between the regime and the opposition. But quickly, developments – like Israel’s growing involvement in the crisis – prompted a qualitative change in the relationship between Damascus and the Lebanese Resistance.

Assad’s response to the latest Israeli attacks on Damascus would have not meant much if it did not also have the strong support of Hezbollah, Iran, and even Russia – with the Resistance openly declaring its willingness to take part in any effort to ward off Tel Aviv’s threats.

Although Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah justified in detail his party’s involvement in Syria, he did not mention – for his own reasons – that the role of the Resistance in Syria’s internal front is not without its limits, and largely depends on the course of events there.

The party has already declared that one of its goals is to push those forces that pose a threat to the Resistance away from Syrian areas adjacent to the Lebanese border. However, when it comes to confrontation with Israel, we can expect an increased and ongoing role for Hezbollah, particularly in the occupied Golan Heights.

Price of Involvement

As for the price that Hezbollah is likely to pay for its involvement, the two rockets that struck southern Beirut on Sunday morning are but a sign that there are those preparing for a campaign of terror against the Resistance.

It is difficult to foresee the trajectory of events after Nasrallah’s call to arms alongside the Syrian regime, but early signs suggest that the coming period will be one of heightened tensions among Lebanon’s political forces, particularly as the dream of toppling Assad is slowly fading away.

This could lead Hezbollah’s Lebanese opponents to exploit mounting sectarian tensions, particularly in Sidon and Tripoli, in order to turn up the pressure on the Resistance and its popular base.

The concern here is that the country’s internal security services have shown themselves to be completely ineffective in diffusing Tripoli’s interminable sectarian violence. So what if it is discovered that the Future Movement, and those powers behind them, hold sway over the state’s internal security forces.

Finally, I invite everyone to take a different approach to the crisis facing our region: To the extent that the Americans, Europeans, and those Arabs in their service succeed in reviving the colonial legacy of division and warfare among the Arabs, this will automatically raise the question of different kind of unity for the other side, which could lead to surprising results that no one could have expected.

Let us dream and hope!

Ibrahim al-Amin is editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.




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