Hezbollah is preparing itself to re-emerge as a power player in the Middle East.
Al-Nusra Front has been launching attacks, from positions in the Qalamoun mountains, into Lebanon (almost a repeat of the 2013 Qalamoun Battle); and Hezbollah has vowed to retaliate – even though Lebanon has no interest whatsoever in being dragged into the Syrian war, or any other conflict in the region for that matter. Notwithstanding, Hezbollah intends to use Lebanese resources in order to reach its goals.
Since the Syrian civil war broke out, in 2011, Hezbollah has been supporting Bashar al-Assad and, it has contributed to keep him in power. The group's involvement has intensified ever since Sunni Jihadist groups (AQ affiliates, ISIL and others) began vying for the control of Syria; having thus pulled Lebanon into the crisis as well – something that the Lebanese were hoping to avoid (harbouring over a million Syrian refugees is enough an issue). But the political environment, in Lebanon, has been in turmoil mainly due to the existing presidential vacuum (the President is granted constitutional powers to act as the commander-in-chief of the army and security forces; to appoint and dismiss the prime minister and cabinet; to promulgate laws passed by the legislative body, to propose laws, enact legislation by decree, veto bills; and dissolve the Parliament).
PM Tammam Salam, last week, called for the “end the 12-month-old presidential vacuum that has paralyzed Parliament legislation and is threatening to cripple the government’s work”; and Nabih Berri warned that “The most serious thing about closing the door on legislation, besides its political and constitutional dimensions, is getting closer to red lines related to Lebanon’s national security and strengthening its stability,” - yet Hezbollah seems to be blocking the appointment of a new President, much to stall the Lebanese political development while giving itself time and space to act as it sees fit.
As previously said, Al-Nusra - possibly in cooperation with ISIS (specially after having cooperated at the Yarmouk Camp) - is now attacking Lebanon:
1- By weakening Hezbollah, the perception is that Bashar al-Assad will also be weakened. So by defeating Hezbollah, a new flank to defeat the Syrian President for good would be opened.
2- The Sunni camp never forgot that Syria was separated from Lebanon after the Great Lebanon was created by the French and the Maronites; and so they now see an opportunity to reunite the territory and re-establish an Arab State with a Sunni majority, and possibly even to merge it with the ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [i.e. Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan]).
"The [Lebanese] state is not able to address this issue... so we will proceed with the necessary treatment and assume the responsibility and consequences," -- Hassan Nasrallah
This statement suggests that Hezbollah is now ready to assume the position as the de facto Lebanese Defence Force. If so, what happens to the $3Bn worth of weaponry, funded by Saudi Arabia, that France sent to Lebanon in order to fight Jihadism?
Hezbollah (a Hybrid Terrorist Group), by denouncing the incapacity of the Lebanese State to tackle Jihadism, has practically advised that the Party of God will assume that role; meaning that the French weapons may fall into their hands – with the compliments of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (that is funding Jaysh al-Islam, in Syria, in order to throw the Alawites and Shiites out of the country). If this scenario comes into realisation, it will mean that Hezbollah will have increased capability:
• 250 combat and transport vehicles,
• 7 Cougar helicopters,
• 3 small corvette warships
• and a range of surveillance and communications equipment
One could argue that this wasn't probably what Saudi Arabia had in mind when it funded these weapons; but it could also be argued that perhaps it was. The Saudis (now threatened by the iblis they fed) are well aware of the Lebanese political situation, they know about the presidential vacuum, they know that Hezbollah (a Shiite group) has infiltrated the Lebanese Armed Forces, they know they incurred the risk of having such weaponry falling under their control; therefore, why the decision to fully fund such shipment? The motivation to fight ISIS, and their associates, would be there regardless of whom would make use of those weapons: neither the Lebanese Sunni & Christian Camp nor the Shiite Camp (backed by Iran) have an interest in seeing a Violent Extremist Group (be it ISIS or Al-Nusra) taking over both Syria and Lebanon. So, the risk is worth taking – as far as the Saudis are concerned. France may have made the same calculation before approving the sale and subsequent training. However, this is a dangerous gamble.
Hezbollah has operatives all around the world (Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Zambia, DRC, Kenya, Angola, Mozambique, Europe etc) and if the group starts calling assets to join the fight in the Middle East (ME), the Party of God may broaden its scope of action: to either open a new front of battle with Israel – especially now that Hamas is busy fighting a quasi civil war with the Salafists, in Gaza; or to assist in other fronts (e.g. Yemen) at the behest of Iran; and here's where the Saudi gamble may yield undesired results.
The Party of God has re-directed its main goals: it no longer focuses on annihilating the influence of the imperialists (who are hostile to Islam), now it focuses on annihilating the power of Caliph-wannabes (who are hostile to Shiites); it has deferred the establishment of an Islamic State, now that it fights the Islamic State; and it has deferred the destruction of the State of Israel, now that Israel is the least of its problems. This re-direction has caused Hezbollah to re-emerge as a force to be reckoned with, and to serve as an example of how much stronger Islamic nations could be if they'd stop obsessing over the West and Israel.
(This article was written in cooperation with Cristina Caravaggio Giancchini)
(Image: Hezbollah Flag/Wikipedia)
[The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dissecting Society]