News / Middle East

Hezbollah Involvement in Syria Sparks Concern

An injured Hezbollah fighter who was wounded in Syria, listens to a speech by Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah on a screen via a video link during a rally to mark the
An injured Hezbollah fighter who was wounded in Syria, listens to a speech by Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah on a screen via a video link during a rally to mark the "wounded resistant's day," in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, June 14, 2013.
Lebanon's Shia Muslim movement Hezbollah is known for its discipline, but the decision to fight in the Syrian civil war has prompted doubts among some supporters.

Enter any Shi'ite town in the Beka'a Valley or in southern Lebanon and you know instantly you're in Hezbollah territory. Hezbollah's yellow flag with the green logo of the Shia party flutters from lampposts and minarets. Photographs of the movement's leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, are liberally displayed.

So too are an increasing number of photographs of recent Hezbollah "martyrs" - Shi'ite militiamen who have fallen in Syria battling rebels while fighting to save the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

These deaths are prompting some rare behind-the-scenes questioning by Hezbollah families of the wisdom of fighting fellow Muslims, even if they are mainly Sunnis. For them the real enemy is Israel, the foe the movement was founded for in 1982 to confront.

"I have heard many people say, if our son was killed defending south Lebanon against Israeli attack, any attack, we must be very proud but our son was killed in Syria, why?" said retired Lebanese army general Hisham Jaber, a Shi'ite from south Lebanon who has attended funerals of Hezbollah's dead.

Hezbollah has had a major impact on the Syrian civil war since the end of May when Nasrallah declared the movement would redouble its support of Assad.

Nasrallah argued that an end to the Assad regime would serve American and Israeli interests. Shortly after, Hezbollah helped Assad to a major victory by joining the assault on the strategic border town of Qusair, retaking it from Syrian rebels who had held it for more than a year.

One Shi'ite sheikh who declined to be identified said some Hezbollah militiamen sought his counsel on whether they should heed Nasrallah's call to arms.

Among their worries was that by fighting in Syria, Hezbollah would ignite a sectarian civil war in Lebanon. It's a worry shared by many in Lebanon.

"The vast majority of Sunnis in Lebanon don't want to get caught up in a Sunni-Shia civil war and I think the same holds for Hezbollah," said author and commentator Michael Young. "Such a war would be terrible. It would be extremely bloody for, I think, very little advantage for either side."

The Beka'a Valley borders Syria and many families here are related to Syrian Shia Muslims, but Shi'ites in southern Lebanon still harbor reservations about the decision to fight in Syria.

"The family relationship between El Bekka and Syria is different than south Lebanon," said Jaber, the retired general. "People of south Lebanon have nothing to do in Syria."

Many Shi'ite intellectuals are quietly critical. The Shi'ite managing editor of a life-style magazine says she used to respect Hezbollah but now fears its intervention will exacerbate Lebanese divisions and bring the Syrian war to Lebanon.

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
July 03, 2013 8:57 PM
I think it is time Israel goes in and pounds Hezbollah for getting involved, and continues to until they stop getting involved in the murder of Syrians.
In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
July 04, 2013 12:12 PM
At the request of who, Syria, Saudi Arabia or who? You know it's been the mind of the Arabs to call Israel in when they have troubles, but pride and prejudice cross their ways. Maybe you can write directly to the Knesset and make this request. It will be most welcome.
In Response

by: Igor from: Russia
July 04, 2013 12:27 AM
I also think it is high time for Russia and China to punish Israel with thousands of nuclear warheads for robbing lands from Palestine. And the whole world will enter the third world war which will destroy all of us.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More