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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

3-day Lockdown to Fight Ebola Continues In Sierra Leone

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid