Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hezbollah Continues to Support Assad's Alawite Regime Despite Risks

Hezbollah's Nasrallah standing by Assad regime in Syria
Despite Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah's frequent rhetoric around "resistance" and "freedom" in the middle east, when it comes to Hezbollah's own position Nasrallah is taking what might be called a very "real politic" approach.  Hezbollah - the powerful Shiite group in Lebanon who are an Iranian client -  has remained steadfast allies of Bashar al-Assad's Syrian regime, despite the fact that the Syrian conflict is largely perceived within the region as a revolt by the Syrian majority against a thuggish regime.

Hezbollah is clinging tightly to Assad to date, however, because Syria is one of Hezbollah's two main allies in the region, along with Iran.  One of Syria's great values to Hezbollah is that it is the main conduit for Iranian arms to reach Hezbollah in Lebanon.  Indeed, as I noted awhile back in a previous post, there is strong evidence that Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon have been in Syria actively working with the largely Alawite military commanders to suppress the largely Sunni rebels.  An article from the end of July in the English language version of France's Le Monde paper noted the following:
"Nasrallah also stated that military strategy was more important than anything else for the party insofar as its relations with Syria go. It is no longer a question of defending “the oppressed” as it has been maintaining in its political charters and by siding with the Egyptians, Libyans, Bahrainis and Yemenis since the beginning of the Arab Spring. Holding on to its weapons, upholding the "axis of resistance" -- Iran, Syria, Hezbollah – against Israel has become top priority."
This analysis is clearly spot on, and there is no doubt that Nasrallah is losing much of the admiration he previously enjoyed in the broader Arab world.  It appears that Nasrallah and Hezbollah are, for now, giving greater priority to their overall strategic position then to liberation rhetoric, and as a result they will be increasingly seen as simply another sectarian component in the region.  Here is the article from Le Monde.

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