**Posted by Phineas
Okay, maybe not so much weeping as wishing for popcorn.
Syrian rebels have reportedly bombed two compounds operated by the Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah, the main Syrian opposition group announced Thursday.
The Free Syrian Army (FSA) claims its forces bombed Hezbollah facilities in Lebanon and Syria, a cross-border raid that indicates the rebels’ desire to increase their attacks on allies of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“The development may mark a critical turn in Syria’s two-year war, bearing out fears that the increasingly sectarian conflict would spill over across Syria’s borders,” according to the Israel Project (TIP), which first reported on the operation.
Love it! Hot jihadi on jihadi action.
In case you’re wondering why the FSA should attack Hizbullah, who are based in Lebanon, keep in mind that the rebellion against Boy Assad (1) and his murderous clan largely comprises groups belonging to the Sunni side of Islam, while the Assads and their key supporters in Syria are mostly Alawite Muslim, an offshoot of Shia Islam (bad enough in Sunni eyes) that is regarded as borderline heretical by orthodox Muslims. In the decades since the Assads seized power, the Alawis have held the real reins of power in Syria and have not been shy about using overwhelming force to keep them, adding to the religious dislike.
Hizbullah is also a Shiite organization, a creation of Shiite Iran, which is the Assad regime’s major patron. (An important Iranian general was reported killed recently in Syria, probably by rebels.) Syria is crucial to Iran’s struggle against Israel and to be a dominant player in the western Fertile Crescent, allowing Iran to funnel weapons and money to Hizbullah, its frequent proxy against Israel. (If Israel ever attacks Iran, expect Hizbullah to try to rain hell on northern Israel.) Iran needs a friendly regime in Damascus, or its influence in the area will be severely curtailed. Hence it has sent troops, including snipers, to Syria to support the Assads.
Hizbullah itself realizes the fall of the Assads would weaken its position, perhaps fatally. It is the dominant player in the Lebanese government and functions as a state within the hollow husk of the Lebanese state. It has been heavily armed by Iran via Syria for its jihad against Israel, and Syria has provided a convenient fall-back zone on the occasions the Israelis have struck back.
But all this is in danger if Assad loses: the safe haven will be gone in a fragmented or dominated-by-Sunnis Syria; there will be no easy route for Iranian weapons to reach them, and they will have enemies to their south (Israel) and east, not just the south. The prospect is scary enough that Hizbullah is willing to do damage to its reputation for fighting for the average Muslim by sending forces to aid Assad against the rebels.
Thus you can see why the Sunni rebels in Syria would have no love for Hizbullah: they are Shiites; allies of the hated regime; tools of the Iranians who prop up Assad and kill Syrians… A conflict was almost inevitable.
But this doesn’t mean the “enemy of our enemy” is also our friend. The FSA is tightly allied with (and perhaps dominated by) the al-Nusrah front, an al-Qaeda aligned organization, many of whose members got their experience fighting us in Iraq. In other words, they are not our BFFs. Whatever “liberal” possibly pro-Western elements there may be in the anti-Assad alliance are, in my estimation, small and weak.
So, what should America do? This may get my “neocon card” revoked, but I don’t think there is much that can be done, particularly after the dithering of the Obama administration over the last couple of years. It’s in our interest to see Iran’s influence in the area damaged and Hizbullah weakened, if only because that would improve the security of our client and ally, Israel. So, the fall of the Assads would be a good thing.
But, not wholly so, if replaced by a Sunni jihadist regime that sees its duty as fighting the Jews, too. And no one sane wants any group affiliated with al Qaeda to have any safe haven. Granted the situation is hell for those trapped in Syria, perhaps the best from an American and Israeli point of view is a continuing war that drains all sides, while trying to cultivate whatever real moderates there are to be ready to exercise influence when the dust settles, and in the meantime doing what we can to make sure the fighting doesn’t spill over into Israel.
(1) Let us not forget that, just a few years ago, powerful Democrats, including our current Secretary of State, and their media allies were all Assad’s useful idiots, praising him as a reformer. That’s the Hundred Acre Wood style of diplomacy, for you.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)