As the war against the Nusra Front, ISIS, and their affiliated factions heads towards their defeat, the ground is being laid for the much more important war on the Lebanese Hizbollah, maintains Abdelbari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of al Raia al Youm
by Abdelbari Atwan – www.alraiaalyoum.com
The war waged by the U.S.-led alliance on ISIS under the banner of fighting terrorism may be legitimate in many peoples’ eyes, and especially those of its Arab members. But we believe that this war is a mere cover or smokescreen that paves the way to, or bestows legitimacy upon a war against the resistance, specifically Hizbollah.
The U.S.’s war in Kuwait in 1991 was the culmination of a tightly woven trap set up after careful planning and a precise distribution of roles. Its aim was to drag Iraqi president Saddam Hussein into Kuwait as the prelude to destroying Iraq, aborting its scientific and military renaissance, and foiling its regional role. And it would be no exaggeration to say that the Syrian war had a similar aim – not only to destroy and fragment Syria, but to implicate the Lebanese Hizbollah and diminish the enormous popularity it had gained and was engraved in the hearts of tens-of-millions, or perhaps hundreds-of-millions of Arabs, after its two great victories against Israel. The first was when it liberated Lebanon’s occupied territories in 2000 after ferocious resistance, and the second time was in July 2006 when it also fought ferociously and held its ground in an epic manner against the Israeli enemy that sought to annihilate it.
Most of the U.S. and its new President Donald Trump’s current moves in the region – including his visit to Riyadh in a few days time and the Eager Lion exercises in Jordan – have one main aim, namely, to declare all-out war on Hizbollah, dry up its financial resources, and criminalize it in the same manner that Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was criminalized, and the Palestinian resistance movement before that, first during the days of the PLO and its factions, then during the days of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the other factions that continue to fight Israel.
Iran’s problems with the West are growing, and its nuclear ambitions represent one of their most prominent aspects. But it is possible to cohabit and even contain this by various means. However, Iran’s grave sin from the West’s perspective stems from its support for the Lebanese Hizbollah, transforming it into a military arm that poses an existential threat to the Israeli state; this, at a time when the Arabs have surrendered to Israel and have gradually begun to drop the epithet ‘enemy’ when describing it; building bridges of cooperation and normalizing relations with it instead, and treating it as a strategic regional ally.
Hizbollah violated all American and Israeli red lines when it acquired vast missile capabilities (100-thousand missiles) as well as fighting skills that most of the region’s armies, including the Israeli army, lack, and because it combines the classical skills of conventional armies with expertise in guerilla warfare. Moreover, the party’s combat experience in Syria over a period of four consecutive years has strengthened, developed, and modernized these skills.
According to reports over the past couple of days, a number of Gulf and Arab states have held a secret and closed meeting in Washington. The aim was to produce a strategy for confronting Hizbollah in the coming period. The states attending the meeting included Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and the UAE. But these reports are no surprise since the current activities that will begin with the Riyadh summits led by President Trump will effectively crown these moves.
Reports from this meeting indicate that the joint Arab/international plan for confronting Hizbollah includes imposing economic sanctions on its members and supporters, and those close to it in all the world’s countries, especially those in Africa and Europe who back the party financially. The plan includes measures to monitor financial transfers and dry up the party’s sources of financing in an effort to create difficulties for its leadership and its political and military institutions.
The war on the hard-line ‘jihadi’ groups such as the Nusra Front and ISIS is about to end. For its part, the Nusra, it is now besieged in Idlib and Damascus’ countryside as well as in some pockets in Aleppo’s countryside. The recent Astana agreement delegated the task of liquidating it to the so-called moderate [Syrian opposition] factions backed by the U.S., Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. And as for ISIS, it has lost most of Mosul, and the war waged by the U.S.-backed Kurdish SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) to liberate Raqqa is now imminent, and will begin as soon as U.S. supplies of tanks, armored vehicles, and modern missiles to these forces have been completed.
In other words, the destruction of the ‘Islamist’ factions that are included on the international list of terrorist organizations will open the door wide to the more important war on Hizbollah, not only in Syria, but in Lebanon as well. This will begin with an economic war and end in a military offensive. In fact, if we were go back a bit in time, specifically to the 1990 Kuwait crisis, we would find that the same scenario was implemented against Iraq – namely, a siege, a ban on exporting oil, followed by military invasion and occupation.
Will this scenario that is being implemented in stages against Hizbollah (and hence Iran) achieve the same success it achieved in Iraq – and before that against the Palestinian presence in Lebanon (that ended with the 1982 [Israeli] invasion)?
It is difficult to give a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to this question. But what can be said is that circumstances have changed, and Israel has changed as well. Hizbollah is the focal point of a regional and confessional structure. It enjoys clear and open support from Iran, and from Iraq to a lesser degree. Any war against it will not be easy. If the 1991 scenario achieved success in Iraq, it is due to Arab collusion and betrayal first, and to the Soviet Union’s collapse second, leaving the U.S. as the sole and dominant power that directs the world alone.
All of the wars and conspiracies currently unfolding in the region are for the sake of Israel’s security and stability, and in order to preserve its military power and superiority in implementation of the scheme designed by ‘the two Bernards’ –Bernard Lewis and Bernard Henri-Levy – and their Grand Master Henry Kissinger who taught them the black art of magic.
It is no coincidence that this scheme’s implementation was launched on the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration and the Sykes/Picot agreements. For the main title of the second centenary will be the fragmentation of the states that emerged from the womb of these agreements, and the consolidation of Jewish/Israeli presence in Israel and the region for another hundred yearsץ. Anyway, the coming days will tell.