Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hezbollah Helping Syrian Alawite Regime Against Sunni Rebels

Commander Riad al-Asaad, a Turkish-based leader of the rebel Free Syrian Army. (Free Syrian Army/AP)
Free Syrian Army Commander Riad al-Assad
As the sectarian war between the Shiite Alawite Syrian regime and the largely Sunni rebels continues to drag on, evidence is mounting that Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon are assisting the Syrian military.  In a recent interview with Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper, Riad al-Asaad, the commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army, insisted the FSA has been fighting Hezbollah as well as the Syrian military.  Various elements of the FSA have longed claimed this is correct.  There are a number of natural reasons for Hezbollah to be assisting the Assad regime battle the opposition:
  • Syria has been the main conduit for Iran to ship weapons to their Hezbollah client in Lebanon.  If the Syrian regime falls, it will be much more logistically challenging for Iranian weapons to reach Hezbollah;
  • Syria, Iran and Hezbollah have formed an "axis of resistance" against Israel and more moderate Arab regimes;
  • Finally, the sectarian connection is natural.  Hezbollah is Shiite, and Alawites are an offshoot of the Shia branch of Islam as well.
Not surprisingly, the resentment against Hezbollah has been growing in the largely Sunni Syrian resistance.  There was a fascinating blog from the UK's Daily Telegraph a few months back with a video of a masked Syrian opposition fighter speaking to an news outlet called Al Jizah.  In the video, the masked rebel fighter uses what is a very clever play on words in Arabic to call Hezbollah the "party of Satan".  I suspect that over time, evidence that the Assad regime is being actively supported by Hezbollah fighters in Syria - as well as Iranians - will only continue to grow.

Here is the link to the Daily Star article, and here is the Telegraph blog.

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