Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hezbollah Now Actively Aiding The Assad regime

There have been a certain amount of Hezbollah fighters aiding the regime inSyria in its fight against the rebels, but it's been kept relatively quiet. Apparently, that's now at an end:

The Hizbullah terror group has affirmed its allegiance to Syria and has offered to place itself at President Bashar Assad’s disposal.

According to a report on Thursday in Lebanon’s Al-Joumhouria newspaper, Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah “placed all of Hizbullah capabilities at al-Assad’s disposal, in the event of the Syrian regime requiring urgent assistance.”

The newspaper quoted senior political sources as confirming that there had been contact between Assad and Nasrallah, and that “Nasrallah had offered al-Assad two forms of assistance, firstly he offered elements of Hizbullah’s special forces any time they are needed, even if they are required to be sent to open fronts to fight the revolutionaries. Secondly, Nasrallah invited the Syrian president to his personal residence, or even to meet inside the Iranian embassy in Beirut.”

The report said that Assad “has opted to remain in Syria because he still believes he is able to steer the ship with the help of some Russian political and military experts.”

The leadup to this was a speech by Hezbollah's leader, Sheikh Nasrallah, who made a point of emphasizing Hezbollah's ties with the Assad regime last week:

“Some say that Syria is the link between Hizbullah and Iran, but let me say that Syria is much more than that,” said Nasrallah. “It is very important for the resistance. The most important missiles which fell in Haifa, and beyond Haifa, and in the center of Israel – were Syrian missiles given to the resistance in Lebanon. Syria gave the resistance missiles which helped us in the Second Lebanon War. It's not just in Lebanon, it’s also in Gaza.”

Lebanon's Naharnet has more:

Hizbullah fighters have lately crossed the area of Hawsh al-Sayyed Ali in Hermel to Syria to help Syrian government troops in their fight against rebels, security sources said.

The sources told An Nahar daily published on Friday that the militants from the 910 unit of Hizbullah’s Jihad Council are fighting alongside the Syrian forces in the areas of al-Qussair, Homs and al-Rastan.

Hizbullah has also a strong military presence in the area of Zabadani, the same sources said.

Now that Hezbollah has decided to double down on the Assad regime, it's almost certain that the civil war is going to continue for some time.

I still see Assad carving out an easily defended redoubt in Northwestern Syria consisting of everything west of the Orantes River and perhaps a strip of territory encompassing Idlib and Aleppo. This comprises the commercial heart of Syria and the areas where most of the Alawites live. From the ports of Latakia and Tartus, he can easily be supplied by the Russians and with Hezbollah now fully on board, not only will the Muslim Brotherhood rebels have difficulty pushing Assad out but he will likely have the arms and manpower to wear them down by attrition and retake most of the country.

This is definitely a Sunni/Muslim Brotherhood versus Shi'ite/Iran bloc conflict, as I've always said.


Michal said...

It ought to be pointed out that the Russians have recently turned back a fleet, and also a supply of helicopters they've been so intent on delivering.

There's rather reasonable disagreement with the assertion that Assad is trying to carve out a new state for the Alawis. It has no infrastructure, it would have no international legitimacy, and cut off from resources the rest of the country has, it would be an easy prey for the rest.

Rob said...

Hello Michal,

First, I'm glad to see you don't disagree with the central premise of the article, that Hezbollah has now committed themselves openly to allying with the Assad regime against the Muslim Brotherhood rebels. That's a sign right there that Assad is far from finished.

Respectfully, you're really reading a lot in to these links! The first one is essentially a straw man that examines an 'Alawite state' in a brief bit of indefensible territory.

If you read the link to the article I wrote on the matter ( as well as this article), what Assad is more likely to do is to carve out a redoubt of the coastal territory west of the Orantes River ( a natural defense point) along with a strip of Northwest Syria that includes Idlib and Aleppo.

Not only is this Syria's commercial hub,but it's fairly easy to defend, has plenty of infrastructure, can be supplied via Latakia and Tartus, by air, and overland via Lebanon now that Hezbollah has thrown in with Assad. And oh yes, the area has plenty of Alawites, Shi'ites and Christians ( who understand what Islamist rule will mean for them) as well as Sunnis who still support the regime.

If you look at what Assad is doing with his army and where Hezbollah is intervening, you'll see I pretty much have it right as far as where Assad is moving.

The second link you provided, from the notoriously fact challenged and pro-Iran Russia Today merely states that the Russians decided not to hold military exercises that included their fleet at Tartus and the third link just recounts that a private shipper turned back with a cargo because their insurance was pulled by a British company.

Very different from what your comment implies, and a H-U-G-E jump to assume that the Russians are cutting Assad (and their one Mediterranean naval port at Tartus) loose.

I could be wrong, but I think what's going on here is that you're pulling for the Islamists to win the civil war and assume I have some kind of regard for Assad.

In reality, I think both are evil, and could care less if they all killed each other off.

I'm also hoping the Kurds in Northeast Syria de facto affiliate with their compatriots in Iraqi Kurdistan right next door.

This civil war is going to go on for a long time.The Saudis and Qataris, after all, will 'fight' until the last dead Sunni Islamist.


Michal said...

Ah, I've overlooked you've had a different territory in mind. My apologies.

I do not doubt that Hezbollah has thrown its weight behind Assad, no doubt it has. There's been hints since the beginning that it's been actively supporting the regime.

While I understand that Russia Today is quite rotten, I think it's safe to believe it in things like "we've turned back our military fleet" - if they were lying, then it should be easy to spot and they'd making fools of themselves. The other link I quickly found on yahoo, but you can find the same news in a number of other sources. Recently, a Russian vice-admiral has said that it is possible to evacuate Tartus, rather than saying they're going to hold it at all costs - even their own base. Russia is obviously supporting Assad, but I merely doubt they're going to do so at all costs, and I believe it is quite possible they will pull the plug once things get desperate.

I am of course not accusing you of rooting for Assad, there's no hint of such in this post (although I may have possibly accused you earlier at some point), I'm merely wishing to share some thoughts and analysis.

Rob said...

Hello Michal,
Point taken, and thanks as always for an insightful comment.

I'm aware that there are some rumblings about Russia evacuating Tartus, but I only think they would do that if Assad crumbled..which I don't see happening,not unless the West gets actively involved ala' Libya.

Tartus is Russia's base in the Mediterranean, and I don't see them giving it up easily.