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Hanin Ghaddar

Hezbollah vs. Hamas

Hezbollah's involvement in Qusayr could drag Lebanon into a broader conflict

Hezbollah members carry the coffin of a fighter recently killed in Qusayr.

Clashes erupted in Beirut Wednesday night between Palestinians and members of the Amal Movement, MTV television station reported. The clashes took place in the Farhat neighborhood near the Cité Sportive stadium, during which two hand grenades were used.  

 

Without proper contextualization, this incident could be seen as just another insignificant fight between two armed groups. But it happened shortly after Jabhet al-Nusra declared the beginning of its operations against Hezbollah in Beirut and the Beqaa. Meanwhile, various sources reported that Hezbollah has asked Hamas to leave Dahiyeh (the southern suburbs of Beirut) after it became known that Hamas has been fighting alongside the Free Syrian Army in Qusayr. 

 

Hamas' alliance with Hezbollah and the Assad regime in Damascus has always given Hezbollah a certain control over the Palestinian camps in Lebanon – but things are drastically different now. Hamas is no longer an ally of Assad or Hezbollah, the organization has shifted alliances and Hamas is now Qatar's best friend and beneficiary. 

 

Of course, that Hamas is now actually fighting Hezbollah in Syria is hardly surprising news. Sources close to Hezbollah in Lebanon report that most of Hezbollah’s casualties in Qusayr occur by mines which Hezbollah and Hamas used against Israeli forces – both groups were trained by the same army after all. The same sources also mentioned that cluster mines are behind most of Hezbollah’s losses.

 

Although Hamas’ leadership in Lebanon officially denied being asked to leave the southern suburbs by Hezbollah, many doubt this actually occurred. Hamas did not and will never declare its military involvement in Syria, as the organization has always been good at playing both sides carefully. Hamas never clearly and officially cut ties with Iran, yet its leadership's new ties to Qatar are a poorly-kept secret. 

 

After Khaled Meshaal and other Hamas officials were forced to flee the group’s headquarters in Syria, Meshaal has since stationed himself in Qatar, making the small Gulf city-state Hamas' new headquarters. Moreover, in October 2012 Qatar pledged to give Hamas $400 million USD in support, which constitutes a critical funding stream that will supplement major subsidies from Iran. 

 

Hamas' loyalty is now with Qatar, and the Gulf state is clearly supporting and funding Syrian rebels, particularly Islamist ones. It is only normal that Hamas, being the best trained military faction in the region besides Hezbollah, will be asked to join the rebels in Syria.

 

But this also means that Hezbollah is facing a new danger in Lebanon, and Wednesday night's news shows that Palestinian camps could again be used to partake in a conflict on Lebanese soil, this time against Hezbollah. 

 

So here we have two supposedly resistance groups fighting each other, politically and most probably militarily. Their fight in Syria will soon move into Lebanon, and when Jabhat al-Nusra decides to launch its attack against Hezbollah in Lebanon, it will come as no surprise if Hamas and other Islamist groups in the Palestinian camps carry it out. 

 

Now that the Lebanese parliament has decided to extend its term for at least 15 months, a new government will probably not be formed anytime soon unless PM-designate Tammam Salam submits to Hezbollah's demand that it maintains control over government and state institutions. This means that Hezbollah is not only still a part of the Lebanese state, it has also managed to maintain its control over Lebanon's institutions. 

 

Therefore, all of Lebanon's institutions and sectors will be a target to whoever wants to attack or pressure Hezbollah. 

 

When Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah officially declared his organization’s military involvement in Syria, inviting his opponents to fight him there, Nasrallah’s message was that Lebanon as a state does not matter and it only exists to serve Hezbollah and Iran's interests. Hence, Lebanon is forced to join Hezbollah in its battle in Syria. 

 

Hezbollah is determined to win the Qusayr battle no matter the consequences, and they are now sending better-equipped and trained troops to Qusayr. Nasrallah has no choice in Qusayr but victory, in order to justify the huge number of casualties coming from Syria every day. Hezbollah's losses in Qusayr are damaging its reputation of invincibility, and winning (like the “divine” victory of 2006) has now become simply non-negotiable. 

 

However, what does victory mean at this point? Winning the battle in Qusayr may mean losing a bigger war. Even if Hezbollah manages to take over Qusayr, they do not have the power or ability to hold it. Eventually, Hezbollah will be chased back into Lebanon. There are no borders or functioning state institutions to stop their return.

 

But, Hezbollah has set a dangerous new precedent with its campaigns into Syria by dragging Lebanon into the neighboring conflict. According to Hezbollah’s ideological and military training – losses, no matter how big, are irrelevant if they result in victory. This mentality is sure to prolong the conflict, something Hezbollah strives on. 

 

This time, however, is different. Hezbollah has positioned itself, through a calculated sectarian approach, as the enemy of all Sunni Islamists who are taking over most of the region. No matter how strong they are or how costly and long the conflict will drag on, Hezbollah is determined to plow ahead. Yet today they are facing all the Sunnis in the region including Hamas, and Hezbollah will eventually lose the bigger battle as a result.

 

As a small, sectarian state, Lebanon will be the biggest loser in this broader regional divide. Therefore, the only choice left for Lebanon is to keep Hezbollah out of any state institution. They cannot be part of the government or parliament anymore. Hezbollah today is an occupying force in Syria, and if they remain in control of Lebanon's institutions, it means that Lebanon will be regarded as an occupying state. Lebanon must therefore change by exercising its real independence. 

 

Hanin Ghaddar is the Managing Editor of NOW.  She tweets @haningdr 

Hezbollah members carry the coffin of a fighter recently killed during the ongoing battle of Qusayr, a city which has seen mounting casualties as Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria grows (AFP photo).

“When Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah officially declared his organization’s military involvement in Syria, inviting his opponents to fight him there, Nasrallah’s message was that Lebanon as a state does not matter and it only exists to serve Hezbollah and Iran's interests.”

  • MonkFish

    Iran and its Lebanese and Iraqi proxies need to wake up to the new geopolitical reality of the region: Sunni political and religious hegemony. The most intelligent move the downtrodden Shiites could make at this critical juncture would be to tone down all the anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic garbage they spew (obviously they have to remain "officially" in favour of the destruction of the State of Israel) and forge secret diplomatic and military ties with Israel and Christian groups in Lebanon and Syria. The survival of Shiite populations, religious sites and organizations is at stake, as is that of all non-Sunni minorities. An effective Jewish-Shiite-Christian buffer to Wahhabo-Salafi expansionism could do much to thwart the major Sunni promoters of takfiri sectarian violence, jihadi terrorism and MB style despotism in the Middle East and beyond.

    June 4, 2013

  • Emeka

    http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/06/we-are-not-involved-in-hezbollah-armoury-saga-lebanese-community/ In the link above the Lebanese community in Kano Nigeria deny knowledge of these arms.. but by the time we finish with them, they will start speaking the truth. HEZBOLLAH to be fore warned is to be fore armed! Be ready for the war you started!

    June 1, 2013

  • Emeka

    And yes they go around bombing everywhere in the north of my country with bombs you HEZBOLLAH supply them. Your mission is to destabilize my country, something the west you love to hate never tried to do.. what makes you any different from the thing you think you are fighting? You cry for victory over infidels, because your spittle of a brain makes you believe you are superior humans chosen by God but yet you use the weapons made by infidels, the mobile phones made by infidels, computers designed by infidels, the internet created by infidels, cars designed and manufactured by infidels, and when you f**** your wives you do so on beds and mattresses designed using infidel technology or imported to you from infidel lands.. You disillusioned piece of chicken poop. Hear me Hezbollah, now we know the real cause of the religious strife we have in our country and we the youths of Nigeria, have this day turned our eyes from blaming our muslim brothers in the north, to putting the blame where it rightfully belongs on your shoulder: the Lebanese Hezbollah for misleading them to turn against their own... and do not mistake us for the poor weak African immigrants in Lebanon and the sorry picture of drought stricken African kids aljazeera and her likes school you on... we are far from the Africans residing in Lebanon and the rest of the Middle east which you and your country men continuously treat with disdain and pure racism. We are proud Nigerians and Africans whose wealth will feed your entire nation and will use all of our resource to hit you back for this recent crime, with the force of a tornado... make no mistake we have been defending our nation from the likes of you for ages and now that we know your real intentions in our country, we ask you to start reading Nigerian newspapers henceforth and you will see our clear vengeance meted out on whichever of your brothers our security officials find complicit in this crime. You will see a barbarism you have never known before,

    June 1, 2013

  • Emeka

    http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/05/kano-arms-cache-belongs-to-hezbollah-dss/ As the link above reveals these weaponry were smuggled into our country by agents of Hezbollah Lebanon in collaboration with some Lebanese living in our country. Now this is a direct warning to Hezbollah! Nigeria is not Israel or the US or the UK. We are not scared of you and your barbarism in the name of whatever religion or belief...In fact if we turn our attention on you, you will desire hell fire more than you desire to see the world islamatized. You spend your whole lives blaming the west for the shit that has become your lives... you claim they occupy your lands and all other sorry excuses you have for drinking blood on a global scale... What business do you have smuggling arms into Nigeria? You claim to be the \'Party of God\' but you are the party of Iran and her evil demons.. Do the pitch black faces of Nigerians look American or British or Israeli to you? Or is Islam under attack in Nigeria too? since you\'ve made it your duty to defend a defenseless God who cannot protect his own religion as you claim it is? If anything, Islam has made \'peace\' a thing we once knew in my country as Islamist go on rampage killing innocent people and bombing churches, mosques and other places of worship for a God who keeps creating infidels only to give his beloved Islamic fundamentalists the pleasure of killing them here on earth and rewarding them with eternal virgins in a questionable heaven....

    June 1, 2013

  • Emeka

    This is a direct message to Hezbollah from the people of Nigeria. Leave Nigeria alone. Nigeria is already undergoing a difficult time as it is. Before 2006 Nigeria\'s 180 million people had had very little or minimal friction with each other.. but from 2006 we woke up one morning and started seeing the same crazy images we thought belonged in Taliban infested Afghanistan or Pakistan only we have no American or British troops on our land... and all this time we thought it was due to a small fraction of the populace who have decided to emulate their counterparts overseas for whatever reason. However, a few weeks ago we discovered a large catch of ammunition, 1, 50mm anti-tank weapons, two 122mm artillery gun ammunition, four anti-tank landmines, 21 rocket-propelled grenades, RPG, 16 rocket-propelled grenades charger, one rocket-propelled grenade tube and 76 military grenade, one SMG rifle, nine pistols, 17 AK-47 rifles, 44 magazines, 11,433 rounds of 7.62mm special ammunition and 103 packet of slap TNT in the home of a Lebanese resident living in the city of Kano, Nigeria. These weaponry were uncovered based on a tip off from patriotic citizens and had been buried in the master bedroom of a house owned by a Lebanese. Three Lebanese have been arrested thus far while investigations are still on going. You can check the following links for more about this: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2013/05/kano-arms-cache-belongs-to-hezbollah-dss/ As the link above reveals these weaponry were smuggled into our country by agents of Hezbollah Lebanon in collaboration with some Lebanese living in our country. Now this is a direct warning to Hezbollah! Nigeria is not Israel or the US or the UK. We are not scared of you and your barbarism in the name of what ever religion or belief...In fact if we turn our attention on you, you will desire hell fire more than you desire to see the world islamatized. You spend your whole lives blaming the west for the shit that has become your li

    June 1, 2013

  • Fenrir | No God but (...)

    Hezbollah is doing what it has always done, protecting the Shiite communities from being ravaged, that's all. I don't hear anything about the Sunni aggression towards Alawis or all the evil commited by Maronites, or the ingrate Palestinian refugees who used Syria and Lebanon as a hotel till it all hit the fan and now they are declaring war against the people who sheltered and fed them for years. 2Hellwithyou!

    June 1, 2013

  • Beiruti

    Excellent piece. It demonstrates even more clearly that these parties, Hamas or Hezbollah are not driven by religion or ideology, but by securing patronage money. Hamas can be the Iranian proxy force fighting Israel until the tit runs dry and then latch on to Qatar and go to Syria to fight Alawites and Shiites. Makes no difference as long as the money flows, we will do the bidding of our paymasters. Lebanese people please wake up to see that this is not an abberation, but this is how your entire political class works. It takes up the cause of who ever will fund their patronage needs. You need only look to the FPM and Michel Aoun. Vehemently anti-Syrian until Syria became a conduit for access to patronage funds from Iran and then Aoun becomes Syria and Hezbollah's greatest facilitator in Lebanon. These guys do not represent you Lebanese, they do not act in the best interests of Lebanon. They are in business for private profit and play the political game for private gain at your expense and the expense of the poor young men who keep coming back to Lebanon in boxes.

    May 30, 2013

  • Metnman

    Interesting piece marred by sloppy editing "Sources close to Hezbollah in Lebanon report that most of Hezbollah’s casualties in Qusayr occur BY (not 'IN') mines which Hezbollah and Hamas used against Israeli forces" "Palestinian camps could again be used to partake ('PARTAKE'? The war is not a meal - bad context, even if it is technically correct) in a conflict on Lebanese soil" and finally the pronoun for a Hezbollah is 'it' not 'they'

    May 30, 2013

  • RODRIGUEZ

    WHEN THE SH....HITS THE FAN!!!

    May 30, 2013