Israel from one part, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah were on high alert during the middle (Thursday 30th January 2015) of this week along the Lebanese border, a day after a Hezbollah attack killed two Israeli soldiers and increased the concerns for an another new escalation of violence in the most terrifying region of the world as it was Afghanistan in the 80’s. It will be tempting to describe the latest episode between Hezbollah and Israel as part of an ongoing “cycle of violence” in this region.
Instead of having a real war, a war of words replaced a war that could have exploded on the border between Lebanon and Israel succeeding Hezbollah’s Jan. 28 attack on Israeli soldiers, as a revenge (or so-called by the medias as revitalization) for Israel’s assassination of six of its commanders and an Iranian general during an Israeli strike in Syria last week. Firstly, one could asked himself/ herself What Hezbollah and Israel were doing in Syria that time? Sky-diving?
In a statement labelled Communiqué No. 1, Hezbollah claimed responsibility for the attack on an Israeli convoy on Wednesday morning, in the Shebaa Farms area, a disputed Israeli-occupied piece of land at the junction of Israel, Syria, and Lebanon. The Iranian and Lebanese operatives killed by Israeli raid in Syria were fighting on the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s side , a war which has cost the lives of over two hundred thousand people in four years.
While the Jan. 18 attack represents another saga in the long-running war between Israel and Hezbollah, it also underlines a strategic power shift between Iran and the Assad regime. Hezbollah’s success in opening a new front in the Golan has been a major accomplishment. With greater access to the Golan — or at least sections of it — Hezbollah has a new, non-Lebanese zone it can utilize to target Israel. This may have been Hezbollah’s primary goal all along. Long before Syria’s brutal civil war, it was Hafez and Bashar al-Assad who used Lebanon, and often Hezbollah, as a front to exact their military goals against Israel. Now the tables have turned, and it is Hezbollah and its masters in Tehran who can choose areas of Syria to use against Israel.
ISIS, AL-QAEDA and Hezbollah and the Syrian regime
The new reality is that without the Syrian uprising, and if al-Assad was more democratic at the beginning of the conflict, Al Qaeda would not be able to carry any operations into the country as it did very quickly. The same Al-Qaeda’s men have largely turned their back to Al Qaeda, after a while,to go for work with its most ready for blood rival, the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), after the two came into public conflict in April, 2013. Without the Syrian conflict, ISIS (ISIL or Daech), which has already existed but minimized in Iraq for years, would not have been able to recruit men and raise money until it was powerful enough to declare a caliphate in a big part of Syria and Iraq. Especially for the latter, the increase of the Islamic State victories one after another,came as a subsequent of the failure of the local Sunni leadership to protect Sunni interests against the Shiite-led government and rising Shiite militias.
According to newyorker.com:
Both ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, a Syrian group tied to Al Qaeda, have crossed into Lebanon, where they have local supporters. The two groups, which are rivals elsewhere in the region, are coöperating in Lebanon. They have declared the Lebanese Army a legitimate target because, they say, it is a Hezbollah-dominated and directed force.
Israel an almost island in the Arabic peninsula.
Israel has always kept an eye on ISIS and the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front terrorists groups rise in Syria, as they battle Iran’s Shi’a ally, Hezbollah, in support of Assad. While either axis would undoubtedly delighted about Israel’s removal from the map, the main existential threat it faces comes from the “Iranian coalition” and its willing for nuclear weapons which menaced Israel during the previous years. Both Hezbollah and Syria’s Assad are politically and financially helped by the Iranian government.
This incident between Israel and Hezbollah, subsequently, gave an important message for both Iran and Mr. Obama (US), especially, that Israel rejects Iranian hegemony in the region, and will act to turn back that increasing stance. Mr Netanyahu’s strategy is defined in some crucial points: facing a tight race in the March 17 elections which he wants to win, confronting Iran and disrupting its quest for a nuclear weapon and especially make Mr Obama to understand it well.
Hezbollah’s chief Hassan Nasrallah stated that Hezbollah is not going to search confrontation opportunities with Israel but does not fear a new war or taking the conflict beyond Lebanon’s borders:
“We do not want war… but the resistance is militarily ready, and we are not afraid of war,”
“We understand that Israel wants to escape from military confrontation and go after the men responsible for Wednesday’s operation. From now on, if any cadre or member of Hezbollah is assassinated, then we will blame it on Israel and reserve the right to respond to it whenever and however we choose.”
This last statement means that Hezbollah will deal with Israeli assaults differently than before. An eye-for-an-eye strategy puts the ball once again in Israel’s court, whereas, from Hezbollah’s point of view, Israel will be responsible for the repercussions that would follow if it attacked Hezbollah or assassinated another member. It must be added that Lebanon’s government doesn’t want an escalate of violences with Israel at the moment as it faces one of the biggest humanitarian crisis in it’s history having on it’s ground numerous Syrian refugees dispersed into Lebanon’s refugee camps facing tough winter situations and lack of food as well.
During the ” famous”, now on, Obama’s couple visit with the new Saudi King Salman this week, Obama said to the new monarch the need to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. But it seemed to have no impact on his nuclear diplomacy with Teheran. US administration strongly believes that Iran and Saudi Arabia will be able to bury a thousand- year rivalry between Sunni and Shi’ite Islam because they are both afraid of Islamic State’s rise. As for Hezbollah’s strategy in the region, nothing can be defined as strategy now, it will be an “eye for eye” strategy at the moment.
Sources: usatoday.com, reuters.com, huffingtonpost.com, thetower.org, newyorker.com, reuters.com, wikipedia (photos courtesy).
Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah: The Unholy Alliance and Its War on Lebanon (Hoover Institution Press Publications) (Book)
The Middle East Then and Now: The History of Israel, Iran, Syria and Afghanistan (Book)
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