Right Web

Tracking militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy

Israel Could Face A Regional Shiite Army In Lebanon

 

Lobelog

 

Following a bipartisan congressional tour of the Middle East, including Israel, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) stated that “southern Lebanon is where the next war is coming.” He also revealed that Israeli officials requested from the congressional delegation diplomatic support if Israel were to strike civilian targets under the pretext of targeting Hezbollah’s alleged rocket factory.

If Israel were to attack Lebanon, it would not just embark on a new showdown with Hezbollah. It would likely come up against a regional Shiite army.

Although Hezbollah’s participation in the war in Syria may have lowered its standing in the Sunni world, the organization’s reputation in the Shiite world has skyrocketed in recent years.

For instance, just a few weeks ago the tenth anniversary commemoration of the death of Hezbollah’s former top military commander Imad Mughnieh took place not just in Lebanon but also in Tehran, which featured an hours-long speech by the commander of the Quds force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Major General Qassem Suleimani.

Even more interesting and significant was the ceremony held on this occasion in Baghdad, where the speakers included the head of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units Abu Mehdi al-Muhandis (also known as the leader of the Iraqi “Hezbollah brigades”), and the leader of the Iraqi Shiite Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq group Sheikh Qais al-Khazali. Meanwhile, the secretary general of the Iraqi Harakat al-Nujaba movement—an Iraqi Shiite group that participated in the fight against the Islamic State—said at this year’s commemoration in Lebanon that “the Iraqi resistance will stand with Hezbollah in any Israeli attack or action against it.”

Iraqis even earlier showed signs of their readiness to come to the aid of Hezbollah in any future war with Israel. In December last year al-Khazali visited the southern Lebanese border overlooking northern Israeli settlements. Dressed in military uniform, he stood with two other unidentified uniformed men and declared his “full readiness to stand with the Lebanese people” and his support for “resistance fighters.”

All of these developments greatly boost the credibility of statements made by Secretary General of Hezbollah Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah. An Israeli attack, he warned back in June, “would open the door for hundreds of thousands of fighters from all over the Arab and Islamic world to participate in this fight—from Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan.” It was indeed the first such warning of its kind made by Hezbollah’s secretary general to Israel, and a clear sign of the regional clout Hezbollah has attained.

It is difficult to overestimate the strength of the ideological bonds between Hezbollah and its regional Shiite allies. The Lebanese movement was the first to send fighters to Syria to protect the shrine of Sayyidah Zaynab in Damascus. The Sayyidah Zaynab shrine is one of the most cherished and sacred shrines for Shiites. Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria also allowed it to interact directly with Shiite fighters coming from Afghanistan and Pakistan to join the battle against the Islamic State (ISIS or IS), Al-Nusra, and other Wahhabi-inspired terrorist groups trying to topple the Syrian government. Such interaction has even further strengthened the bonds.

In Iraq, meanwhile, Hezbollah played a very important advisory and training role for the Iraqi groups that fought and defeated IS terrorists. In Iraq, too, the Lebanese movement helped protect shrines considered sacred by the international Shiite community. Unlike Syria, where the battle against Wahhabi-inspired terrorists rages on, the Iraqis have actually succeeded in defeating the terrorists (militarily at least). Hence, the Iraqis are not preoccupied with their own battles and seem keen on returning the favor to Hezbollah if another war breaks out with Israel.

Given that Israel failed to defeat Hezbollah in its war in Lebanon in 2006, it’s difficult to imagine Israel succeeding in a war against both Hezbollah and its newfound regional network of Shiite allies. And at the same time not only is Hezbollah’s missile arsenal a lot larger and more dangerous than it was in 2006, but it has also gained vast experience alongside its allies in offensive operations against IS and similar groups.

The Trump administration and Congress for their part would do well to pay attention to the fact that an Israeli war in Lebanon could put the lives of US troops in danger this time. Unlike 2006, Hezbollah’s Iraqi allies may very well target US troops stationed in Iraq in retaliation for U.S. support of Israel. The US also now has around 2,000 troops stationed in northeastern Syria that also represent a valuable target for Hezbollah and its regional allies if Israel were allowed to embark on another military operation in Lebanon.

Ali Rizk has been working in the field of journalism since 2003 including five years in Iran. He is a contributor to Al-Monitor and Al-Mayadeen and has written for other outlets including the Lebanese dailies Assafir and Al-Alakhbar. He is the former Beirut correspondent for Iranian PressTV. Photo: Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

Share RightWeb

Featured Profiles

Bret Stephens is a columnist for the New York Times who previously worked at the Wall Street Journal and the neoconservative flagship magazine Commentary.


Donald Trump’s second attorney general, William Barr is the focus of a growing controversy over the Robert Mueller report because his decision to unilaterally declare that the the president had not obstructed justice during the Mueller investigation.


The Republican Jewish Coalition is a right wing Jewish advocacy groups that promotes an aggressive pro-Israel and anti-Iran policy.


Erik Prince, former CEO of the mercenary group Blackwater, continues to sell security services around the world as controversies over his work—including in China and the Middle East, and his alleged involvement in collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia—grow.


The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), one of the more effective U.S. lobbying outfits, aims to ensure that the United States backs Israel regardless of the policies Israel pursues.


Gina Haspel is the first woman to hold the position of director of the CIA, winning her confirmation despite her history of involvement in torture during the Iraq War.


United against Nuclear Iran is a pressure group that attacks companies doing business in Iran and disseminates alarmist reports about the country’s nuclear program.


For media inquiries,
email rightwebproject@gmail.com

From the Wires

The new government will, once again, be the most right wing in Israel’s history. But this time, the length of the new government’s tenure will depend more on Netanyahu’s legal troubles than on the political dynamics of the coalition.


Given such a dismal U.S. record on non-proliferation, why should North Korea trust U.S. promises of future sanctions relief and security guarantees in exchange for denuclearization? If anything, the case of the JCPOA has demonstrated that regardless of its pledges the United States can reinstate sanctions and even bully private multinational companies to divest from Iran.


As Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Saudi crown prince and de facto ruler Mohammad bin Salman clamor for a war against Iran, they seem to have conveniently forgotten the destruction and mayhem wrought by the American invasion of Iraq 16 years ago.


President Trump’s announcement that he would recognise Israeli sovereignty over the western part of the Golan Heights destroys the negotiating basis for any future peace between Israel and Syria. It also lays the groundwork for a return to a world without territorial integrity for smaller, weaker countries.


The Senate on Wednesday passed a measure mandating the withdrawal of U.S. forces from the Saudi/UAE-led war against Houthi rebels in Yemen. The vote marks the first time since the War Powers Act of 1973 became law that both chambers of Congress have directed the president to withdraw American forces from a conflict.


The Trump administration’s failed “maximum pressure” approach to Iran and North Korea begs the question what the US president’s true objectives are and what options he is left with should the policy ultimately fail.


In the United States, it’s possible to debate any and every policy, domestic and foreign, except for unquestioning support for Israel. That, apparently, is Ilhan Omar’s chief sin.


RightWeb
share