Monday, December 1, 2014

Strategic Overstretch

Has the Posse of Allah got all overstretched?

Hezbollah, a terrorist organization second only to Al Qaeda in the number of Americans it has killed, is nonetheless viewed in heroic terms throughout much of Lebanon by Christians and Muslims—Sunni and Shia alike—for standing against Little Satan and acting as a vanguard in the fight against the Islamic State.

Until the start of the Syrian Civil War, however, Hezbollah, with at least one notable exception, showed little desire for the kind of international operations carried out by Al Qaeda or Iran’s Quds Force. Since the fighting has broken out, however, Hezbollah has deployed some 5000 fighters to Syria, nearly a third of its total fighting strength, with as many as 1000 of its men killed. That would mean that Hezbollah, which has traditionally made up in sheer numbers what the Lebanese Army has lacked in effective strength, could be significantly overstretched.


Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria exposed its lack of direct firepower as well as its inadequate surveillance for guerilla-style warfare in which it is on the receiving end. The conflict now involved jihadis with light weapons and mobile anti-tank missiles facing Hezbollah fighters with similar weapons.

In a sense, Hezbollah had prepared for the wrong war. Long range missiles and short range Katyusha rockets designed for a war against Israel were now of little use. Chinese anti-ship missiles as well as concealed anti-tank and short range missiles in south Lebanon facing Israel seemed of little military value when the real threat to Hezbollah came from across the long and ragged border with Syria.

Hezbollah did not anticipate this and was ill prepared for irregular warfare and border control. It has resorted to erecting fixed positions not unlike what the Israelis erected in south Lebanon.