Tags: hezbollah | israel | gaza | assad

Hezbollah Risks All-Out War With Israel

By Monday, 09 February 2015 01:06 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Operating out of Lebanon, Hezbollah is a terrorist organization that pulls the strings in this nation north of Israel. It has influence in the army, in the parliament, and even on the streets of major cities.

It has this influence because President Bashar al-Assad of Syria offers financial and military support, and Iran is the ultimate broker controlling Assad’s fragile government and exporting the missiles Hezbollah has stockpiled.

But now Hezbollah is in a tangle. It wants to avoid an all-out war with Israel, a war it cannot win.

Yet its Iranian sponsor has sent a delegation of senior Revolutionary Guard commanders to the Golan Heights and has taken steps to surround Israel with missile deployment in the West Bank, the Syrian border, and Gaza.

Needless to say, Israel doesn’t want another war on the heels of its confrontation with Hamas, nor can it tolerate dire threats.

As a consequence, Israel’s recent strike in Syria is an attempt to forestall Iranian and, by proxy Hezbollah, interests in a region fraught with chaos. Israel cannot create order out of the Syrian maelstrom, but it can strike against those who would exploit the situation for a potential attack.

A pre-emptive strike by Israel signals that deterrence has risks. This was the case on the northern border when Hezbollah retaliated by killing two Israeli soldiers and wounding others. Hezbollah did so to save face, according to some analysts. Its targeting choice on the eastern end of the border devoid of civilians and against a military convoy, suggests it was inclined to be cautious.

Hezbollah is obliged to adopt a wait and see attitude. The war in Syria that includes rebels and Iranian forces, as well as the dismemberment of the country through ISIS invasions, has existential importance for Hezbollah.

Without Assad and Syria at its back, Hezbollah would be hard pressed to sustain itself in Lebanon. Syria is Hezbollah’s link to Iran and Iran provides military assistance to Hezbollah through the Syrian conduit. Should this linkage fall apart Hezbollah would be placed in a precarious state.

Both Hezbollah and Assad do not want to drag the Lebanese people into a war precipitated by Iranian plans.

After all, Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, has a vivid memory of the 2006 cross border attack which led to the Second Lebanon War and the destruction of large sectors of the country. From his standpoint, it is far better to assemble a massive missile force poised to attack and available as a threat than engage in an all-out war against Israel he cannot possibly win at this point.

However, since Hezbollah is a vassal in this scenario, its fate is largely in the hands of Iran. Hence the tangle.

In the Middle East regional events vary from day to day. Because they are unpredictable, and as a consequence, volatile, Israel must decide when and where to attack and be prepared to give an enemy a clear ultimatum and, on occasion, the benefit of the doubt.

Hezbollah is an enemy, and a dangerous enemy, but it is not prepared to fight. That may be a positive sign. The negative sign, of course, is that Hezbollah cannot determine its own fate.

Herbert London is president emeritus of Hudson Institute and author of the books "The Transformational Decade" (University Press of America) and "Decline and Revival in Higher Education" (Transaction Books). Read more reports from Herbert London — Click Here Now.

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Hezbollah is an enemy, and a dangerous enemy, but it is not prepared to fight. That may be a positive sign. The negative sign, of course, is that Hezbollah cannot determine its own fate.
hezbollah, israel, gaza, assad
Monday, 09 February 2015 01:06 PM
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