Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Hezbollah: The Syrian Connection

Courtesy Of Al-Jazeera

Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah has been supporting the government in Syria, but its members have now been attacked on their own turf.

As Syria's conflict spreads across the border into Lebanon, one Hezbollah fighter and several Syrians were killed after rebel fighters reportedly tried to set up rocket launchers on the Lebanese border near the Eastern Bekaa Valley. At least two people were also injured in fighting in the Lebanese city, Tripoli.

The pressure is mounting for Hezbollah to end its involvement in Syria.

"Hezbollah is gambling with the future of Lebanon with the way it has entered into the Syrian conflict. It is also cancelling the sovereignty of Lebanon itself ... Lebanon is in a very dangerous situation ... 

Lebanon is now in a state of war," Salman Shaikh, the director at the Brookings Doha Center, and an advisor to the United Nations Secretary General on the Middle East, told Al Jazeera.

And Lebanon's former Prime Minster, Fouad Siniora, has made it clear that he is calling on Hezbollah members to put an end to their involvement in the Syrian affair.

"We will not allow our present and future to be destroyed; we can’t accept that and won’t stay silent. We won’t allow our country to be an outlet for exporting militias and money groups or to be a failed state. 

That’s why we say bluntly: no for the participation of Hezbollah or any other groups in the fighting taking place in Syria between the regime and the people. We’ve stood firm, with all the faithful, against the sectarian project and we will not allow anyone to bring the regional conflicts to our country."

So, what are the implications of Lebanon becoming another battleground in Syria's ongoing conflict?

To discuss this, Inside Story, with presenter Mike Hanna, is joined by guests: Ahmad Mousalli, a professor at the American University in Beirut and a specialist on Islamic groups; Naim Salem, a professor at Notre Dame University in Lebanon and a specialist on international affairs and diplomacy; and Salman Shaikh, director at Brookings Doha Center and advisor to the UN Secretary General on the Middle East.  

"It was the Salafis, that started supporting the opposition and militarising it, before Hezbollah interfered in the conflict in Syria ... It is only in the last 6 months that Hezbollah entered at the level of military support, whereas the other groups were actually the base for transferring people, arms, money and many other things. We shouldn’t try to put the blame on one or the other. At this point, both are involved ... both are going to go for the end of the conflict given as I mentioned that it has been turned into a sectarian survival of one or the other." 

- Ahmed Mousali, a professor at the American University in Beirut  


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