By Elijah J. Magnier – @ejmalrai
4 October 2017
Hezbollah and Iran believe that the Middle Eastern and international players involved in the war in Syria since 2011, and who have lost their war to the benefit of Russia, Iran and its allies, are not ready to accept defeat, and will work instead towards an official rapprochement with Israel, triggering an inevitably harsh reaction from Hezbollah against political enemies in Lebanon. Hezbollah, along with domestic allies will not hesitate to regain control of the country and certainly at least remove those willing to follow any Arab-Israeli reconciliation.
The US is preparing a bouquet of sanctions on the Lebanese Hezbollah group covering its affiliated civilian institutions, including municipalities, social services networks, construction and restoration companies, plus media TV and radio: in fact hitting any individuals close to or sympathising with Hezbollah. This step follows the visit of Saudi Minister of State for Arab Gulf Affairs, Thamer al-Sabhan to Lebanon, where he met Lebanese-Saudi proxies within the “14th of March Alliance”. He also asked the group and the Lebanese people to choose “to either stand with or against Hezb-al-Shaytan”[Hezbollah, the“Party of Satan”].
It is clear that Saudi Arabia, Israel and the US won’t recognise the failure of regime change in Syria: they will not accept the military victory of Hezbollah, Iran and the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, achieved after more than 6 years of war in Syria. The current US administration is taking an aggressive stand against Iran and Hezbollah and, along with Israel and Saudi Arabia, would like to see Iran and its allies totally defeated in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia’s envoy has warned their Lebanese allies in Lebanon that the Kingdom is ready to cut funding for those parties unwilling to stand overtly against Hezbollah in advance of the forthcoming parliamentary elections.
The beginning of the preparation for a peace process between Gulf countries and Israel is ontrack and the path towards an overt relationship is clearer every day: what was permitted only in the shade is now coming to light. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir, clearly said at the UN that his country doesn’t find any reason to consider Israel as an enemy. The Saudi retired General Anwar Eshki visited Israel, considered Iran and Hezbollah as Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s common enemies, and said that his country is ready to open an embassy in Israel if Tel Aviv acknowledges the Arab peace initiative.
In fact, many countries in the Middle East blessed the Israeli war in 2006, and would like to see Hezbollah and Iran defeated, considering the Palestinian cause as no longer relevant. In fact, during the last Israeli war on Lebanon, the pro-Saudi and anti-Hezbollah Prime Minister (then Fuad Sinioura) tried to impose on Hezbollah a total surrender of its weapons during the 31 days of war- a request not even forwarded by Israel. Israel in fact asked Hezbollah to pull back a few kilometres from the borders (request denied).
This aggressive Saudi and US stand against the miraculous Lebanese political balance cannot change the domestic dynamic to the benefit of Hezbollah’s local enemies and opposition. Billions of dollars were invested in the last parliamentary elections to obtain only few additional imbalanced marginal seats. The real problem doesn’t lie in the election. Much more than that: what will the Lebanese pro-Saudi alliance do if and when Saudi Arabia decides to establish an open relationship with Israel?
There are groups within the 14th of March alliance who had a relationship with Israel, and others who follow Saudi policy and wishes in Lebanon blindly. These will inevitably follow Saudi Arabia’s policy, opening the Lebanese bazaar to promote peace with Israel- which forces the following question- what (in that case) would be Hezbollah’s reaction against their present political Lebanese partners?
For a start, the actual partnership in the government with the Parliament will end because Hezbollah will not tolerate any group establishing, promoting, or advertising a good relationship with Israel. The Lebanese resistance cannot go against its own objectives, ideology and creed. It is true that Hezbollah changed the objectives which it declared in 1985 to establish an Islamic state, because pursuing them would have served its enemies and put at risk its survival, which turned out to be due to the acceptance of a multi-ethnic society. Hezbollah will never ever accept living with domestic groups calling for a relationship with Israel, a country whose aim is to eliminate Hezbollah.
What can also happen are divisions between the various ethnic groups. In fact, Lebanese Christian, Druse and Sunni camps will be split among those who will support a peace deal with Israel and those who will stand in the opposite camp. These are certainly not lacking in the country (nationalists and Islamists who consider Israel as an enemy and reject any contact with Israel). This split will give enough reasons and protection for a military intervention of Hezbollah domestically.
The threat of a peace deal with Israel is much more important for Hezbollah than its military communication system for which the group occupied the capital Beirut on the 7th of May 2008, in just a few hours. At that time Hezbollah had neither the arsenal nor the colossal military experience in warfare and urban fighting it has today after the long war in Syria. In this war, Hezbollah managed to control cities and territory five times larger than the entire surface of Lebanon.
Hezbollah won’t be alone but will be supported by multi-ethnic Lebanese groups that turn the battle into national rather than sectarian objectives. Of course, all possibilities will be on the table, and the consequences may not be straightforward, especially as foreign intervention is also possible.
The US, Israel and Saudi Arabia have lost the military battle in Syria and the “axis of the resistance” (Iran, Syria, Hezbollah), along with Russia, has won. However, the final outcome may not be a complete victory: Syria is virtually destroyed and divided by the two occupation forces on its territory- US forces in north-east Syria, and Turkey in the north. The Syrian regime did not fall-but the last word is yet to be told: see below.
-The electoral file: the international community is insisting on running a presidential election which prevents Syrian refugees from returning home and voting in their countries of residency, in order to bring down Assad.
-The Kurdish issue in Iraq and Syria: many countries will try to use their possibilities, like a Trojan horse, in order to re-define the Middle East’s borders and national boundaries.
Hezbollah leader Sayed Hasan Nasrallah unwittingly warned us what he expects and what he is planning: “There are those preparing for a new political confrontation and a new alignment in Lebanon, (..) pushing Lebanon to a new domestic clash. It seems the US is preparing for new wars in the Middle East. Where is Lebanon’s interest in all of this, I wonder? You (Lebanese) all know we have an excess of military force and wonder how are we going to use it? We are not afraid, neither worried nor concerned (about a possible domestic war). I shall not permit to anyone to push Lebanon towards a conspiracy or clash whose result is known in advance (Hezbollah will prevail!)”.
Nasrallah also warned of a new era where the Middle East is divided, using Kurdistan Iraq as a place where internal wars can be manifested.
Hezbollah fought for its existence in a war in Syria for many years against Takfiris: “to be or not to be”. Hezbollah won’t give up its military force and under no circumstances will it accept submission. It will fight against any deal with Israel, regardless of the cost. This is what regional and international countries fail to realise: it is not possible to take Hezbollah wherever they want. However they can certainly take Lebanon beyond the point of no return into a vicious and violent future.