World View: How Hezbollah's Reluctant Foray into Syria Changed the Mideast

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • How Hezbollah's reluctant foray into Syria changed the Mideast
  • Pakistan's PM Nawaz Sharif under fire over peace talks with Taliban

How Hezbollah's reluctant foray into Syria changed the Mideast

Nasrallah gives a televised speech on April 30 (Daily Star)
Nasrallah gives a televised speech on April 30 (Daily Star)

The Mideast changed dramatically on April 30 of this year, when Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanon-based Shia terror group Hezbollah, gave a televised speech saying that Hezbollah would militarily enter the fight in Syria, on the side of the regime of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad, and then followed up by winning an overwhelming victory against Syria's opposition in Qusair. (See "6-Jun-13 World View -- Syria and Hezbollah gloat over victory in town of Qusair".)

That was the point in time when Syria's civil war turned into a war between Sunnis and Shias in the Mideast. That was the time when the Sunni terror group Jaish al-Muhajireen wa Ansar (the Army of the Immigrants) was formed in Russia's Chechnya province for the purpose of fighting against the Alawite/Shia forces of the al-Assad. That was the time when the trickle of Sunni jihadists coming to Syria to fight began to turn into a flood, arriving from central Asia, northern Africa, and Russia's southern Caucasus provinces.

It turns out that many of Hezbollah's leaders were reluctant to take the step into Syria. Hezbollah's mission had never been anything but leading "the resistance" -- which is the phrase that stands for expelling Israel from the region. These leaders feared that abandoning the resistance going into Syria would mean that they would be permanently embroiled there for years, abandoning their main mission, the resistance.

So why did they go ahead with the Syria mission? It's because they were ordered to do so by Hezbollah's master and funding source, Iran. Nasrallah's announcement came just a few days after he returned from a trip to Tehran, where he had met with Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei. According to one Lebanese politician, "Nasrallah is not going to say ‘No' to someone who has given him $30 billion over the past 30 years."

In many ways, the fears of the reluctant Hezbollah leaders have been realized. It now appears that Hezbollah will become fully immersed in the Syrian war, and part of the larger conflict between Shias and Sunnis that is growing in the region. According to one former Hezbollah leader, the minority Shias can never win a proxy war with Sunnis:

"Until recently, I had thought that armed resistance (against Israel) is a top priority and a precious goal... Those seeking to fortify the resistance should not drag it into war between Sunnis and Shi'ites... That strife will consume everybody."

In addition, the Syrian conflict has been a new monetary disaster for Iran. According to a Lebanese security official, "Syria is sucking up Iran's reserves, with the Islamic Republic paying between $600-700 million a month (just towards the cost of fighting in Syria)."

It's worth noting that this is the backdrop against which Iran has been pursuing its so-called "charm offensive" at the United Nations this week. The Syrian conflict may have made Iran desperate enough to seek some kind of game changer, so Iran may be more willing to make concessions than we realize. Reuters

Pakistan's PM Nawaz Sharif under fire over peace talks with Taliban

People in Pakistan are increasingly using the word "appeasement" to describe the continuing insistence by the new prime minister Nawaz Sharif to hold peace talks with Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP - the Pakistani Taliban). It was a major campaign promise by Sharif that instead of getting tough with the TTP, he would end the constant stream of violent terrorist attacks across Pakistan by talking with them. The TTP have indicated that they would be willing to participate in peace talks under certain conditions -- TTP prisoners must be released from jail, the army must be released from the tribal areas where it has been fighting the Taliban, and the government must agree to impose Sharia law on the country. Sharif has certainly not rejected these demands, perhaps dreamily hoping that they could be negotiated down. But what's really crushing Sharif's dreams is that TTP is continuing its major terrorist attacks -- an attack that killed three army officers on September 15 in Upper Dir, and a major attack on a Christian Church in Peshawar on September 22.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari, whose wife Benazir Bhutto was killed by a terrorist attack in 2007, said last week in a veiled criticism of Sharif:

"The greatest... threat to democracy emanates from the militant mindset [that] seeks to impose their agenda through force.

If there has been any doubt about the futility of appeasing the militants these must be removed by the incident in Upper Dir today."

On the other hand, you have Imran Khan, the former cricket superstar turned anti-American politician who opposed Nawaz Sharif and lost, who continues to insist that peace talks with the TTP are the way to go, despite no letup in terrorist attacks.

In fact, there are a significant number of TTP supporters in Pakistan, no matter how many innocent people they blow up in mosques and churches. Similarly, there are plenty of people who are so in love with Syria's president Bashar al-Assad that no matter how many thousands of innocent women and children he orders raped, mutilated, massacred and slaughtered, they'll continue to support and cherish him. Here in the United States, President Obama could pick up a gun and kill somebody, and the NY Times and NBC News would find a way to blame it on the Republicans.

The increasing number of sycophants of the kind that I've just described is characteristic of today's generational Crisis era. In America's last Crisis era, one group of sycophants admired Benito Mussolini, saying that he kept the trains running on time, other sycophants admired Adolf Hitler for whatever reason, and a third group admired Josef Stalin because they loved Communism. This sycophantic admiration for leaders, even when they turn into monsters, is what characterized the last Crisis era and the current one, and is one of the reasons why a war is inevitable. Dawn (Pakistan) and Daily Times (Pakistan)


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