Syria’s Hezbollah Connection

Hezbollah Fighters

Hezbollah Fighters

You may recall that, when Israel last invaded Lebanon in 2006, they got a bit of a surprise: the fighters of Hezbollah, “the Party of Allah,” fought them to a standstill. Long used to winning all their armed conflicts with the Islamic world, Israel found itself flummoxed at every turn by a well prepared military force based in undetectable underground bunkers all along the border.

Hezbollah is a Shia paramilitary group, founded and bankrolled by Iran, operating in several states in the Arab world that are mostly Sunni. To ensure their survival amid changing conditions, the Hezbollah made a devil’s bargain with Bashar al-Assad in Syria to help them against the anti-régime rebels. If Syria loses its conflict, Hezbollah fears it will lose its influence to a new Syria in which the political power will rest with the Sunni.

As a step to maintaining its power in Lebanon, Hezbollah has done something it never wanted to do: It became a political party. When you’re predominately an insurgent group, it’s difficult to take care of issues like healthcare, education, and sanitation. The Hezbollah legislators are a quietly sullen group doing what they feel they have to do to survive.

What could happen is that Hezbollah might find that politics are to its liking. And then they will become just another terrorist group (like Kenya’s Mau-Mau and South Africa’s African National Congress) that became legit.