News / Middle East

Hezbollah Upsets The Balance in Lebanon

Fighters loyal to the Assad regime hold up the Syrian  national flag stand June 5, 2013 after capturing the town of Qusair from anti-government rebels.
Fighters loyal to the Assad regime hold up the Syrian national flag stand June 5, 2013 after capturing the town of Qusair from anti-government rebels.
Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri says the nation’s militant Shia movement, Hezbollah, is risking the “fate of the nation” by taking on an expanded front-line role in neighboring Syria’s civil war.
 
The warning from Hariri comes a week after Hezbollah guerrillas from Lebanon, fighting beside Syrian government troops, led the attack on Qusair a strategic Syrian town on the main highway into Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley. The government’s capture of Qusair is considered a major blow to the Syrian rebel movement, which has been trying to oust President Bashar al-Assad.
 
Hezbollah, the militant arm of a Shia Muslim movement considered stronger than Lebanon’s own army, has been closely allied with Assad, whose Alawite religion is an offshoot of Shia Islam. Most Syrian rebels belong to the Sunni branch of Islam.
 
The United Nations estimated about 93,000 people have been killed in the Syrian civil war, which has been going on for more than two years. On Thursday, the Obama administration in Washington said it had concluded that Assad’s forces had been using chemical weapons in the fighting and that the United States would begin helping to arm the rebels.
 
Hariri said on Thursday the Hezbollah leader, Sheikh Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, was engendering Lebanon by dragging it into the conflict next door. Nasrallah, He said, was acting as though he was Lebanon’s head of state by “allowing the borders to be opened for thousands of fighters to take part in the Syrian war.”
 
Upsetting the political and religious balance
 
The fear is that Hezbollah’s prominent role in Syria will upset the delicate political and religious balance in Lebanon, where Christians and Sunni and Shia Muslims have maintained a fragile truce since ending a bloody civil war of their own 23 years ago.
 
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, gives a televised speech from an unknown location, May 25, 2013In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, gives a televised speech from an unknown location, May 25, 2013
x
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, gives a televised speech from an unknown location, May 25, 2013
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, gives a televised speech from an unknown location, May 25, 2013
Indeed, sectarian tensions already have been boiling over in Lebanon, which has seen episodic clashes in the north between Lebanese Sunnis who back the Syrian rebels and Shiites who back Assad.
 
Foreign aid agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are reviewing their evacuation plans and, say relief workers, several are stocking up on body armor for their employees.
 
“Security for our workers has become one of the biggest challenges we face in the Bekaa Valley,” says William Barakat of the U.N.’s World Food Program. 
 
Hariri is the businessman son of the late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, whose assassination in 2005 almost plunged Lebanon into civil war.  Hariri said he couldn’t “hide the fact that my feelings of apprehension over the nation’s fate during this historic moment far surpass the feelings of concern we all lived through” after his father’s slaying.
 
In recent weeks, Hezbollah has redoubled its military engagement in Syria and thousands of Lebanese Shia fighters were at the forefront of the Syrian government’s capture of Qusair last week after a three-week siege.
 
Fear of retaliation inside Lebanon
 
One of the biggest fears among regional analysts is that Hezbollah’s engagement in Syria will encourage Syrian rebels to strike Hezbollah inside Lebanon. The Free Syrian Army’s military commander, General Salim Idris, warned recently that his rebel fighters might begin targeting Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon.
 
A further danger is that Sunni Muslim fighters from Jabhat a-Nusra, an al-Qaida affiliate that has been battling against Assad, will also take the fight to Hezbollah inside Lebanon.
 
“You have got two of the most vicious factions in this war facing off,” says Jonathan Schanzer, a Middle East scholar and vice president at the Washington D.C. think tank, Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
 
The increasingly sectarian nature of the Syrian crisis is raising fears of a more widespread Sunni-Shia confrontation.  On Thursday, Muslim clerics representing 70 influential Sunni organizations meeting in Cairo issued a call for a holy war against Assad and his Shiite allies.

Concluding the Cairo meeting, Mohamed Hassan, a leading Egyptian preacher, made a televised statement saying that Assad was waging “war on Islam” and urged the faithful not only to aid the mainly Sunni rebels, but to wage jihad.
 
“Jihad is necessary for the victory of our brothers in Syria - jihad with mind, money, weapons; all forms of jihad," Hassan said.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
June 16, 2013 8:47 PM
While Hezbollah of Lebanon is attacking Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Syria, the fighting in Syria has escalated from civil war to war between countries. The involvement of the other countries in the next escalation for the regional war. While the Lebanese Hezbollah is fighting in Syria, Israel might try to clean out Hezbollah in Lebanon. The presence of Hezbollah in Lebanon threaten the national security of Lebanon, Israel and Syria.


by: Godwin from: Nigeria
June 15, 2013 1:54 PM
Hariri should go bury his head in shame. He was prime minister after his father's assassination and he did not realise the importance of removing Hezbollah. Was he sleeping? Hezbollah has been there all along because all of Lebanon thinks it would be an effective counter force to Israel. Now do they cry! And look at the call for jihad, another stupid engagement of an entirely brainwashed people. Jihad? Well. How soon are they going to arm up to face Hezbollah? While it is one of those things that expose the ill-wisdom of the Arabs, it might be the best thing to happen in the region to eliminate the most acrimonious haters of the West in the Middle East, and it should be given all the support in the world, even though it will launch the region into greater turmoil. But it can't get better until it first gets worse.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid