Rockets in Beirut Target Hizbullah as Violence spreads from Syria to Lebanon

Four persons were wounded by GRAD rockets that fell in south-western Beirut, a Hizbullah stronghold, on Sunday. The strikes come a day after the head of Hizbullah pledged to continue fighting for the al-Assad regime in Syria.

Most Sunni Muslims in Lebanon support the rebels against the Baath government, and so are annoyed with Hizbullah for its stance.

Part of that speech is translated here:

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24 Responses

  1. Thank you so much, Juan, you are really outdoing yourself in recent days keeping us up with so many interesting, fresh, historical narratives of people’s choices in the here and now.

    I have a life, I don’t have to comment on every piece, however you have in recent days out-reported and out-published truths about our current global historical situation, than all other American print or internet media — by a ratio to be measured in powers of ten.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, you are helping young people all over the world understand the value of history, the stories of people.

    • Well,for one he is the head of the largest political party in Lebanon. This ignorant comment is like saying, “Why can’t America get rid of this Reince Priebus?”

    • Because money talks. Iran bought Assad and Nasrallah and their cronies on the cheap. When you sell love for money, then Money will sell you. Also, Wahhabies have been buying poor Sunnis on the cheap. When hate dominates the love in your heart then it is very easy to sell the little love and have money for it also.

  2. I think its not that they support Assad but don’t want any fighting to spread into their country.

  3. The civil war in Syria is developing into a regional war between Shia and Sunni. Israel’s bombing attack seems to have brought in Hezbollah, officially. Bigger, non-Muslim countries (Russia, U.S. and NATO) are on the sidelines, for now.

    One hundred years ago, on the western end of the Ottoman empire, Serbia served was a catalyst for a much bigger war. Today, Syria on the eastern end of the old Ottoman empire is threatening to do the same.

  4. ‘Annoyed’ is quite a euphemism.

    Hizballah is playing an extremely dangerous game, which has the potential to unite all other Lebanese factions against it.

    • Hezbollah has earned the enmity of many Lebanese citizens over the years with not only its terror attacks, but also its military conflicts with Israel, which have caused tremendous damage to the Lebanese infrastructure.

      Even among Shi’ite followers, most gravitate to Nabih Berri’s Amal Party. No need to reference mere “potential” – most Lebanese factions have been against Hezbollah for years.

      Hezbollah is largely localized in its power base to south Lebanon.

      • Query – is there a significant chance Hezbollah might in a reasonable time frame become a legitimate political player or be subsumed or absorbed into another one?

        • They already are a ‘legitimate political player’ as you put it. They have freely elected members in the Lebanese parliament, they have ministers in the Lebanese cabinet helping to run the country. Their armed wing is recognised as a legally constituted component of the Lebanese defense forces against external aggressors. Amongst those aggressors are the USA whose Marines they drove out of Lebanon by bombing them and the Israelis who have been forced to run away every time that Israel has invaded Lebanon by the ferocity and effectiveness of the resistance mounted by the Hizb.

          Hizballah are and always have been an integral part of Lebanon. Get used to it.


      • Even among Shi’ite followers, most gravitate to Nabih Berri’s Amal Party.

        Please provide some evidence to support this assertion.


        • In the 2009 Lebanese Parliament elections, the Amal Party won 13 seats and Hezbollah 12 to help form the ruling coalition.

          Nabih Berri has retained his long-held position as Speaker of the Lebanese Parliament.

          Hezbollah rules in a de facto manner areas of south Lebanon via its militia, but the Amal Party commands the loyalty of the Shi’ite Lebanese community in the major population centers, such as around Beirut.

          Amal is respected as a centrist secular political party and Hezbollah is viewed by most Lebanese, even among Shi’ites, as extremist in orientation.

    • You are not paying attention to Lebanese politics. Uniting “all other Lebanese factions” against Hizbullah was never an option. Lebanon is a fractious and no-holds barred democracy. Coalitions come and go. Currently, Hizbullah is a highly successful political (and military) organization.

      The “extremely dangerous game” is what is happening every day, within Lebanon, between Lebanon and Israel, between various Lebanese factions and Syrian factions, etc., etc.

      Ask the dead in Tripoli, Qusayr, Damascus, etc. how dangerous this is.

      Stop thinking of Hizbollah as a “terrorist” organization, and instead think of them as a rational actor (regardless of whether you agree with their goals or not, with which I adamantly do NOT agree). Try first to understand them as a local political force, and their actions make much more sense.

      Much of Lebanon’s political elite already oppose Hizbollah (with the exception of their ally Amal). But if you study your history, you might find that some of those opposed (ahem, Phalangists, or now Salafis in Tripoli), are perhaps not what you might like to align yourself with.

  5. To borrow the overused phrase, Nasrallah is opening the gates of hell with his cynical and wrong intervention on behalf of the Assad regime. It’s now clear that Hizbollah serves as the cat’s paw of Iranian foreign policy in the region. This craven intervention now threatens to further irritate confessional tensions in Lebanon and “may” lead to a renewal of sectarian violence in a big way. And mark my words: If this comes to pass, Hizbollah will pay a steep price. Nasrallah has aligned with the bad people and, one can only hope, the losing side of history.

    • So Hizbullah is the one “irratating confessional tensions in Lebanon?” What exactly is going on in Tripoli? Who is instigating the sectarian conflict there?

      It ain’t the Shiites.
      “Sunni cleric Sheikh Seif Eddin Hussami:
      We say to Rifaat Eid (…) We are coming to liberate our people from your dirt and clean the area that you have taken hostage.”

      I have no interest in defending Hizbullah. But I do wish that we could understand them as a local political force as opposed to somebody’s (Iran’s) “cat’s paw”. Remember: they are the only army to ever defeat Israeli aggression. That means something-quite a bit in fact-to a lot of people in the region and the world.

      They are not going away,whatever Andrew Ferguson’s hopes may be.

  6. And here a leader of a small party in a small country shows leadership while the empires and the emirs and their alliance of convenience nibble at Syria and its heart to feed their own contorted appetite.
    If Iraqi debacle raised the influence of Iran, the Syrian debacle is supposed to counter act by talibanization of Syria and Lebanon? But even the Taliban on their worst day have a better organization, chain of command and leadership with less support from their gulf state benefactors then the Syrian opposition will ever hope to achieve. With the help of Iran and Russia and after peaceful transfer of power in Syria, he can declare victory and smell like roses.

  7. it is simply not the case that “all lebanese factions” are or have been against hzb. nor is it the case that most lebanese shia are with amal. not by a long shot.

    as for ‘all lebanese factions’ many christians view hzb and the shia as potential guarantor of christian interests in lebanon, especially after the post-war saudi-ization of the lebanese economy. this was, of course, accomplished under the hariris, who were able to buy off christian financial elites, thereby isolating the gemayels and geagea over time. many of these christians are (rightly) more concerned of continued spread of saudi-financed interpretations of sunni islam than they are of hzb or the shia.

    as for amal, it is still viewed, within the shia community, as quite parochial. unable to shake off the reputation they earned during the war and its immediate aftermath for thuggery and corruption, amal is still a distant distant second in terms of popularity…

    • as for ‘all lebanese factions’ many christians view hzb and the shia as potential guarantor of christian interests in lebanon, especially after the post-war saudi-ization of the lebanese economy.

      That’s what makes this episode so notable, and the speculation about a grand anti-Hezbollah coalition a possibility: these rockets were launched from a Christian/Druze area.

      • Haven’t seen the after-action report, but one of the items often noted about rocket attacks is that the launchers and rockets are very portable, can be set up and launched in a very short time, and have often been used by people who have no connection to the launch area to “tag” the launch area and attract reprisals.

        But hey, that’s all part of the Great Game, isn’t it? Building and distributing the rockets and launchers and all kinds of other weapons, for fun and profit, with little regard for consequences to those ever-elusive, apparently highly discounted desireables, stability, security, “peace”, or with intentions to actively degrade them? And then doing all the complex stuff of trying to figure out who did what to whom for what reasons and how to respond or plan out the next 40 or 50 moves in the Game to achieve what particular goal, again? Just keeping the Game going, with the advantages that flow to a certain set of all of us?

        Some of us rejoice in taking part in the complexity, and have commonality only with each other, behind a thin patina of “patriotism.”

  8. Hezbolloh’s decision to commit itself fully to the fight over Qusayr, in particular, and to the defense of the Assad regime, in general, has dangerous implications for the entire region. As the increasingly bloody sectarian conflict in Tripoli suggests, there are no real boundaries to the Syrian civil war. At the present time at least, wherever there are opposing Sunni and Shia populations in the Middle East, there’s a pretty good possibility–a probability in some places–of bloodshed on a fairly grand scale.

    For Israel the Syrian conflict presents a dilemma. If Assad, relying significantly on Hezbolloh’s military support, were to succeed in defeating the Sunni-based rebellion, the Shiite organization would no doubt be in a position to demand from the Syrians the kinds of weapons (“game-changers,” as Nasrallah calls them) it has heretofore not been able to acquire. Because such weapons (e.g., nerve gas) would pose an enormous and obvious threat to Israeli cities, Israel would do everything in its capacity to prevent Hezbolloh from acquiring them, including a much more thorough-going bombing of missile transports from Syria to Lebanon than occurred a few weeks ago. This undoubtedly would prompt a Hezbolloh response, which, given the tinderbox of the area, would lead to a greater and more intense escalation–in other words, war. Such a war would, in all likelihood, be far deadlier, to both Lebanese and Israeli civilians, than the conflict in the summer of 2006.

    On the other hand, if Assad were to lose, and if the most radical of the Sunni groups fighting against him were to gain control of the Syrian state, which seems likely, the situation for Israel would be no less precarious. A radical Sunni victory would probably spell the end of the period, dating back to 1974, during which the Israeli border with Syria in the Golan Heights was secure, safe and quiet. A Salafist regime in Syria, for example, would have little interest in perpetuating the nearly four decades of calm (apart from the brief air war between the two countries in 1982–the Bekaa Valley Turkey Shoot.) that have marked their relations.

    Currently, given the visceral hatred between the Alawites and the Sunnis in Syria, and Shia and Sunni elsewhere, and given the ferocity of their fighting, Israel seems to be in a somewhat enviable position: two different forces that seek her annihilation are at war with each other. But at some point that war will end, and whichever force is the victor, Israel will be facing a good deal more danger than she is facing now.

    Under the circumstances, the best that could happen to Lebanon is that Hezbollah begin to withdrawal its fighters from Syria–this would ease tensions in Tripoli and prevent what could otherwise easily develop into a full-blown civil war. The best that could happen for Israel is that Shiites/Alawites and Sunnis continue to fight each other. The best for Syria–alas! there is no realistic best for Syria: all conceivable outcomes seem to be unspeakably bad.

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