by Mordechai Kedar
Read the article in Italiano (translated by Yehudit Weisz, edited by Angelo Pezzana)
The Second Lebanon War ended in August 2006, after thirty three days of Israeli attacks that resulted in the deaths of 1300 Lebanese, most of whom were Hizb'Allah militants, the destruction of infrastructure and buildings, and half a million people becoming refugees, having fled from South Lebanon. Despite this, Hizb'Allah's propaganda has managed to change the actual rout into a perceived victory, because Hizb'Allah's leader - Hasan Nasrallah, managed to survive, and because he did not hand surrender the two kidnapped IDF soldiers, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser, may G-d avenge their blood, and because he did not agree to disarm Hizb'Allah, the excuse being that these weapons are intended for fighting the Zionist enemy and liberating the occupied lands.
As a result, Hizb'Allah has become the most popular organization in the Arab world, because it succeeded where all the other Arab armies failed, and Nasrallah has become a national Arab hero because of his courage and tenacity of purpose. The Arab world ignored the fact that Hizb'Allah is a Shi'ite organization while the great majority in the Arab world are Sunnis, and the fact that Hizb'Allah is an extension of Iran. The Arab admiration of Nasrallah in 2006 soared exceedingly. Despite the strengthening of UNIFIL and the broadening of its mandate following Resolution 1701 of the Security Council, the border between Lebanon and Syria continued to be a wide open thoroghfare for the missiles, weapons and ammunition that have been streaming in undisturbed from Iran via Syria to Lebanon. Hizb'Allah has been restored and strengthened by the joint efforts of Syria and Iran, and owes its existence to both of them. If it wasn't for Hafez and Bashar Asad, and the imams Khomeini and Khamenei, the Shi'ite community in Lebanon would have remained marginalized and neglected, with an aging militia, Amal.
Since the demonstrations broke out against Bashar Asad in March of 2011, the spokesmen of Hizb'Allah have been expressing unreserved support for the Syrian regime, because their hearts are with the Damascus regime and not with the masses, most of whom are Sunnis and want to overthrow the regime. In June 2011, the first reports surfaced concerning Hizb'Allah people, mainly snipers, who came to Syria in order to help suppress the demonstrations that were, at that time, not violent.
During 2012, reports abounded about especially cruel "Lebanese" who fight on the side of Asad's military, about secret graves of slain Lebanese fighters near the Lebanese border with Syria, about the ban that Hizb'Allah imposed on families of the fallen who were killed in Syria, forbidding them to mourn publicly and about Lebanese prisoners being held by the Free Syrian Army. However Hizb'Allah usually disregarded these reports, and when it did relate to them, it denied them.
The Arab media was not silent, and dealt extensively with the involvement of Hizb'Allah in Syria, especially since a few weeks ago it was disclosed that the Free Syrian Army is negotiating with Hizb'Allah about freeing several dozens of Hizb'Allah fighters who were captured by the Free Syrian Army. To the Arab world it is now clear that Hizb'Allah, the hero of 2006, has become a murderer of Arabs, an assasin of Muslims, and therfore, an enemy of the Sunnis. Hizb'Allah's detractors, both inside and outside of Lebanon, principally in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, scoffed at the usual claim by the spokesmen of the organization that their weapons are for use against Israel, and that they are committed to jihad only against the Zionists. "How many Israelis are in Damascus? How many Zionists are in Homs?" they asked.
The organization that calls itself The Association of Arab Intellectuals, which is headed by a Palestinian by the name of 'Amr al-'Azam, recently published a messagae in which he called for Nasrallah immediately to withdraw his forces from Syria, and especially the 1500 Hizb'Allah fighters who, according to al-'Azam's claim, are guarding President Bashar Asad. Below is the text of the message (my comments are in parenthesis, M.K.).
"We, who believed in you and supported you in the War of July 2006, regard you with deep contempt and disdain in light of your obscene involvement with your partner in spilling Syrian blood. The despicable Shi'ite sectarianism deep within you has overcome your fake claim of interest in Arab identity, ideals and goals. In the past, we imagined that the Shi''ites in Lebanon are the closest to their Sunni Arab brothers historically, culturally, nationally and religiously, however the turban on your head was made in Qom (In Iran, the city of the Ayatollahs) and therefore you are a collaborator with the Iranians in spilling the blood of Syrians. Your part in the assassination of many Lebanese politicians and intellectuals (for instance Rafiq al-Hariri) and the part you play in the suppression of the Syrian rebellion, heralds the end of your era, and you should be brought to trial for war crimes against the Arab nation and humanity. We promise you that we will open large Shi'ite religious centers in which thousands of people will mourn for you after you are eliminated, together with your gang of mercenaries, and we call on you to redeem what is left of your desecrated Arab honor, before your treasonous machine gun (Hizb'Allah's weapon, with which it was supposed to fight only against Zionists) silently commits suicide in the nearest trash can."
However, criticism of Hizb'Allah is not limited to The Association of Arab Intellectuals, and today, criticism of Hizb'Allah comes from most of the organizations and spokesmen of the Arab world, including Shi'ites - and not only them - in Lebanon. There have always been Shi'ites in Lebanon who sharply criticized the alliance between Arab Hizb'Allah and the Iranians, which was supposed to be an alliance against Sunni Arabs and Christians, but their criticism was marginalized following the Hizb'Allah "victory" over Israel in 2006.
Today, Nasrallah must support Asad because of the long-standing support of the Asads, both father and son, for Hizb'Allah, and because the Iranian patron of Hizb'Allah supports the Asad regime, heart and soul. In a discussion that was held this week on the BBC Arabic radio station, the spokesman claimed in the name of Hizb'Allah that if there are fighters of that organization in Syria, their role is limited to defending the Lebanese border from "terrorists" who threaten Lebanese citizens. In response, the spokesman of the Free Syrian Army threatened that after they eliminate Asad and his gang, 23 million Syrians will settle accounts with the Hizb'Allah gang and eliminate Hasan Nasrallah even if he continues to hide like a mouse in his bunker in Dahiya, the southern Shi'ite suburb of Beirut.
This threat along with the unstable situation of Bashar Asad, makes Nasrallah seem like a person who gambled on the wrong horse, because when Asad falls, Nasrallah will become a persona non grata, and he will have to flee for his life from Lebanon.
Undoubtedly, when the bloody Asad regime falls, the status of Hizb'Allah will be severely undermined, and so, with one slash of the sword, the Syrian tentacle and the Lebanese tentacle of the Iranian octopus will be cut off. This might cause an internal conflict for the ruling elite in Iran over the question of who is responsible for the Iranian gamble on Asad, and who is responsible for his abandonment and fall. Such a conflict might weaken the internal cohesion of the ayatollahs' regime and hasten its end.
An important question is how the Iranians will respond to such a situation. Will they accept this double misfortune of the fall of both Asad and Hizb'Allah as an edict from heaven or will they act energetically and decisively against Asad's opposition. In the current situation, they are capable of transferring large military forces - including armored divisions - to Syria via Iraq, because they control matters in Iraq almost completely, for the information of some people in the White House. The transit of the Iranian forces will be, of course, by official and totally legal invitation of the Iraqi and Syrian governments, just as the Saudi armed forces were officially and legally "invited" into Bahrain to crush the demonstrations of the Shi'ite majority, in spite of Iranian objections. In such a case, will Turkey become involved by attacking the Iranian forces streaming into Syria via Iraq? Will the United States or NATO act? What will Israel do to prevent the Iranian army from lodging itself near the border of the Golan? And How will the world react to the streaming of Iranian forces into Syria if Iran declares that it possesses a nuclear weapon?
Another problem that it is hard to deal with, for the world in general and Israel in particular, is the situation in Jordan, because Iraq, which borders Jordan on the East, has become an honored member of the Iranian coalition this past year, after the withdrawal of NATO forces from Iraq. The Iranian army, entering Iraq with the consent of its government, could easily and quickly reach Jordan also, not only Syria, and from there, threaten Saudi Arabia and Israel as well.
Because of the possibility - even if it is remote - of a scenario such as this, Israel must firmly reject any suggestion to retreat from the Jordan Valley, because it is the only area where Israel can stop any foreign force, whether Iranian or Iraqi, that tries to attack Israel from the East. Any substantial military force that succeeds in crossing the Jordan Valley from the East to the West might bring the next war to the streets of Tel Aviv.
It is enough to see the photographs of Homs, Damascus and Aleppo to get an idea how the streets of Tel Aviv and Haifa would look should such a scenario occur, and what Hizb'Allah does to Syrians in the streets of Homs, it would do to Israelis in Tel Aviv in Shenkin Street. I would ask whoever thinks that a scenario like this is delusional and impossible: two years ago, did anyone imagine a scenario in which Mubarak in Egypt, Qadhaffi in Libya, Ben 'Ali in Tunisia, Saleh in Yemen and perhaps Asad in Syria would all be overthrown?
This is why the world must ensure that the coalition of Iran, Asad and Hizb'Allah will end up in the trash heap of history as soon as possible, so that when armed with nuclear weapons, and having no moral limitations, they will not be able to repeat the atrocities that they committed in Homs and Aleppo in other countries.
Dr. Kedar is available for lectures in the U.S. and Canada
Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Mordechai.Kedar@biu.ac.il) is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.
Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav.
Links to Dr. Kedar's recent articles on this blog:
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- The End of Oslo - and a Glimmer of Hope
- Sic Transit Gloria Mundi
- The Terror of the Alawites Becomes Reality
- The Turban Burns on the Head of the Liar
- The Sectarian Genie
- Diplomacy of Rabbis
- King Mursi the First
- Terror on the Border - Who is the Actual Victim?
- Christians of the Middle East - Endangered Communities
- Total Destruction
- On Academia, Politics and Survival in the Middle East
- Tribal Democracy
- Jordan and Radical Islam
- The Brothers and the Muslms
- What's Next for Saudi Arabia?
- An Open Letter to President Asad
- The Suffering of Africa - Sins of Europe - Guilt of Israel
- What Drives Turkey?
- Engulfed by Fear
- The Syrian Crisis Spills Over into Lebanon
- The Frustrated Intellectual
- Syria, Iraq, the Gulf and the Iranian Tentacles
- The Failure of the Palestinian Venture
- Is Islam the Solution?
- Radical Islam in Africa
- What's Really Going on in Gaza?
- The Alternative Homeland
- The Real Thing
- The Division of Syria
- The Death Throes of the Lion
- An Old Governmental System in Formation
- Frustration and Extortion
- Thank You, Hamas
- Drums of War in the Gulf
- 2011: The Year of the Arab Winter
- And This is the Gate of Heaven
- In the Shadow of the Rising Islamic Crescent
- Who Stole My Revolution
- The Noose Tightens
- The Desert of Death
- Jihad Forever
Source: The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. Also published in Makor Rishon, a Hebrew weekly newspaper.Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.