Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Spill Over

Oh snap!

It's true - the civil war in Syria is like totally spilling over into Leb Leb Lebanon.

See, ev since the Posse of Allah (or perhaps the Posse of Shaytan?) began getting all interventionist to defend Syria"s illegit regime led by the Wookie sized Dr General President For Life, funintended consequences have avalanched at an alarming rate. 
 In an extraordinary speech Saturday, Hassan Nasrallah, the bearded and bespectacled leader of the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah, promised an all-out effort to keep the murderous regime of Bashar al-Assad in power in Syria. “It’s our battle, and we are up to it,” Nasrallah said in a televised address. The war, he said, had entered “a completely new phase.” 

 This is a terrifying development; the beginning of a regional war. Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed armed group, has been fighting inside Syria for months, something I detailed in an article on the group in February. But Hezbollah was intervening in Syria covertly, in large part because it feared a backlash at home. Month after month, Nasrallah denied that his men were fighting for the dictator across the border. When Hezbollah fighters were killed in Syria, they were memorialized in bizarre funerals back in Lebanon, in which the causes of death were not mentioned. In public, Nasrallah maintained that Hezbollah was the same thing it always had been: an armed group dedicated to protecting Lebanon from the depredations of Israel. In a speech in October, he said: “As of now, we have not fought alongside the regime.” As more and more Hezbollah fighters died inside Syria, that lie could no longer be sustained. The truth is out. 

 Nasrallah is now personally committed to the survival of Assad’s regime, no matter how murderous it becomes. His logic involves naked self-interest: Syria provides Hezbollah with its crucial link to the regime in Iran, Hezbollah’s creator and benefactor. Without Assad, Hezbollah might not be able to survive. 

 Indeed, it was no coincidence that Nasrallah decided to give his speech during a big battle for the Syrian city of Qusayr, where Hezbollah appears to have suffered heavy losses. Qusayr lies on the road between Damascus and the Syrian cities on the Mediterranean coast, the stronghold of the Alawites, the minority sect that is loyal to Assad. For obvious reasons, the Assad regime in Damascus wants to hold the highway to the coast. It’s unclear how much a difference a new infusion of Hezbollah fighters will make, but it can’t hurt. 

 Brace yourself for the consequences. On Sunday, Hezbollah’s headquarters in southern Beirut was nearly struck by two rockets fired by unidentified fighters—the first time in years that the group has come under attack there. Last week, sectarian fighting broke out between Sunnis and Alawites in the northern city of Tripoli—not a new thing, but the bloodiest in a long time. 

Hezbollah isn’t the only group that has been intervening in the Syrian civil war. Since the Syrian conflict began, Lebanese Sunnis have been slipping across the border to support the rebels, but in a mostly unorganized, haphazard way. The Syrian rebels themselves have promised to avenge Hezbollah’s activities by taking the fight into Lebanon.

What comes next? So far, the peace in Lebanon has mostly held, in no small way because memories of the civil war there are still fresh. But as Hezbollah commits itself more deeply to the Syrian war, the more difficult it will be to contain the violence in Lebanon itself. It’s not difficult to imagine Lebanon slipping into a new civil war of its own. 

 Hizbollah's now-open support for the Assad regime can be read two ways: either the sign of a desperate regime with few friends playing a final card, or the beginning of a war that will engulf the entire region.

Pic - "And now the war moves to Lebanon"