by Dr. Reuven Berko
The Sunni-Shiite conflict exposes Hezbollah as a hostile Iranian tool
To mark the 10-year anniversary of the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah delivered a speech from his bunker hideout and attacked Saudi Arabia for moving closer to Israel while sacrificing the "Palestine problem" in exchange for normalizing ties with the Jewish state. Nasrallah's comments came in the wake of a visit to Israel by a Saudi delegation, headed by retired Saudi Maj. Gen. Anwar Eshki (and additional contact with Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal). The speech was broadcast prior to the screening of a documentary about the war and the 2006 abduction of Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev that ignited it. The film was intended to highlight the terrorist organization's capabilities, but essentially revealed the fact that Hezbollah's situation has never been worse, indicated by Nasrallah's choice to link the events surrounding that war to his castigation of Saudi Arabia.
Nasrallah's ire toward Saudi Arabia stems from a regional picture of apocalyptic conflict between Sunni Gulf States and Iran, which has resulted in Hezbollah losing a considerable portion of its capabilities and reputation as a force of influence in the region. From boasts of "liberating Palestine," Hezbollah is pinned down in the middle of the Sunni-Shiite conflict, exhausted and bloodied from its Sisyphean battles against opposition Sunni Islamist forces in Syria, all for the purpose of preserving the lifeline stretching between Iran through Syria to Lebanon. There is no desire whatsoever to start a fight with Israel along the way.
Veterans of Israeli military intelligence, who served before and during Operation Peace for Galilee (the First Lebanon War) in 1982, will testify that many of the Shiite activists in south Lebanon at the time, who now wear the Hezbollah uniform, were Israeli agents who provided the IDF with information that helped prevent Palestinian terrorist attacks from South Lebanon and ultimately led to the banishment of Yasser Arafat's PLO from the country. These activists and their wives welcomed the columns of Israeli tanks with flowers and rice, to thank the soldiers for saving them from the Palestinian terrorists taking their homes and cars to carry out terrorist attacks in Israel.
Due to Iranian indoctrination and funding, the Shiite villages throughout the years transitioned from belonging to the IDF Liaison Unit in Lebanon's association of villages to the Amal terrorist group and finally Hezbollah. Prior to this Iranian indoctrination, the Shiites in Lebanon never viewed the Palestinians favorably and never aspired to help them. The pretension of Hezbollah's promise to "liberate Palestine and Jerusalem," therefore, was merely an Iranian con intended to drug the Palestinians and Sunni Arabs, direct them toward the "Zionist enemy" and thereby distract them from Iran's infiltration of Syria, Iraq and Lebanon -- as part of the Islamic republic's goal of achieving regional dominance, which also includes Yemen and other Gulf states.
The IDF's forced withdrawal from south Lebanon in 2000 was an achievement for Hezbollah, despite the fact that it was always inevitable. Had Hezbollah acted with Lebanon's true interest at heart, the Israeli withdrawal would have sufficed. Its leaders, however, along with many across the Arab world, among them Palestinians, were swept up by the megalomaniacal ethos of victory and pinned their hopes on Hezbollah liberating "Palestine and Jerusalem." The calamity suffered by Hezbollah in 2006 led Nasrallah to declare that had he known the Israeli response would be so destructive, he would not have ordered the operation to abduct the IDF soldiers. Ever since, Israeli deterrence against the murderous organization has persevered (similar to the situation with Hamas following Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014). Hezbollah's bloody intervention alongside Iran in Syria, Yemen and other Arab states is kindling increasing criticism from home in Lebanon, which will endure as long as the stream of Lebanese sons killed in action continues to flow and the conflict in Syria increasingly encroaches into Lebanese territory.
The cat is out of the bag, and Hezbollah's involvement as an Iranian instrument of war against Sunni Arab states has emerged as an obvious threat. The Sunni-Shiite conflict exposes Hezbollah as a hostile Iranian tool (similar to Qatar, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al-Qaida). This conflict has made the Palestinian problem a nuisance, has led Saudi Arabia to rescind billions of dollars in aid to Lebanon and has signaled rapprochement between Sunni Arab states and Israel, who find themselves in the same foxhole against the Iranian menace -- and this is what is troubling for Nasrallah.
Meanwhile, even as Sunni Arab states define Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, Joint Arab List Chairman MK Ayman Odeh and some of his contemporaries in the Knesset insist on calling it a "liberation organization."
Dr. Reuven Berko
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