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Hezbollah and sacrificing al-Assad - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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It is not strange for two western newspapers – one British and one American – to publish similar reports on Hezbollah and the predicament that the group is beginning to find itself in, domestically, within the Arab world, and even within the Islamic world. For the events in Syria, which the Lebanese group is involved in as part of its insane support for al-Assad, not to mention the assassination of Wissam Hassan, are placing Hezbollah in the eye of the storm.

America’s Washington Post and Britain’s Sunday Telegraph both issued reports about the presence of divisions within Hezbollah regarding the approach it should follow in Syria, and the danger of rushing to the defense of Bashar al-Assad. This is something that has led to the group losing its popularity in Lebanon and the region as a whole. Hezbollah’s defense of al-Assad has exposed the group’s lies and sectarianism. However what is striking in the Sunday Telegraph report is the quote attributed to a Lebanese source with connections to senior Hezbollah circles. The source said “there is an awareness inside Iran and Hezbollah that they are going to have confrontation with the Sunnis, or are going to have to bridge the gap between them” adding “the hardest topic is Syria. The future of Hezbollah and the Shia is directly related to the future of Syria. If Bashar is to be sacrificed, let’s sacrifice him and not Syria.” This statement is important, but is Hezbollah still capable of sacrificing al-Assad and preserving Syria?

I strongly doubt this, for it is difficult to find a solution following the death of approximately 15,000 Syrians at the hands of al-Assad regime forces, whilst it will be even more difficult to repair communal relations. If Hezbollah is sincere – although it is difficult to believe this – the group is capable of minimizing its losses, as can Iran; however what is certain that public confidence in Hezbollah has suffered, and it will not be easy to restore this. One might say: Do you believe that Hezbollah will truly sacrifice al-Assad to preserve Syria? To answer, I believe that Hezbollah wishes to do this, but this is a difficult proposition; however al-Assad will fall whether Hezbollah likes it or not. What is clear today, from such leaks regarding the presence of divisions between Hezbollah’s civilian and military leadership on Syria and the issue of sacrificing al-Assad, is that this all points to the presence of genuine concerns within the Hezbollah movement. This is something that I referred to in one of my previous articles following Hassan Nasrallah’s extensive interview with al-Mayadeen TV.

These leaks also indicate that Hezbollah is beginning to sense that it is facing a real predicament following the assassination of Lebanese security official Wissam Hassan. Hezbollah has begun to feel the extent of the loathing towards it from a large segment of the Lebanese people, not to mention its loss of the Syrian street, not to mention the Arab street. Therefore it is natural that there are those in Hezbollah who sense the threat represented by this situation, whilst others are blinded by arrogance. Anybody who knows the Hezbollah leadership can cite its arrogance, which is something that has also overwhelmed Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, particularly following the 2006 war and the group’s occupation of Beirut. Following this, Nasrallah was transformed into a man who did not hear the word “no”!

Therefore, Hezbollah thinking about sacrificing al-Assad now to preserve Syria is not important, particularly as nobody will cry over his fate. In addition to this, any value in any “deal” to topple al-Assad is decreasing more and more, whilst Hezbollah’s losses are increasing. This is what the Iran-backed Hezbollah movement should be worrying about, rather than sacrificing al-Assad and preserving Syria.

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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