All-out war in Lebanon
Analysis: Battles between armed gangs in Beirut could affect relative calm on Israel’s northern border
Alex Fishman, ynetnews.com, Jan. 5, 2014
Israel is not shedding any tears as car bombs explode in southern Beirut’s Dahiya quarter. But this malicious joy againstHezbollah should go along with quite a lot of concern: The ongoing instability in Lebanon could affect the relative calm on the northern border.
Week after week, Hezbollah suffers painful blows in its soft belly, this time in southern Beirut. Another record was broken on Thursday when a car bomb exploded in the Dahiya quarter. Time and again Hezbollah stands helpless in the face of a terror offensive – but in the meantime it must restrain itself, as its internal status in Lebanon does not allow it to act today as it acted in the past.
Hezbollah is weakened and humiliated. Ongoing attacks against the organization in Beirut will eventually take Hezbollah fighters out of the camps and cast them into the war inside Lebanon.
After all, the strongest impulse motivating violence in the Middle East is vendetta. It’s very reasonable to assume that Thursday’s attack in Beirut was an act of revenge over Hezbollah’s unusual success in Syria. This ritual of slaughter and counter-slaughter is intensifying the gang war in Lebanon. What is perceived today as a limited gang war of Salafis and Sunnis against Alawites and Shiites in Lebanon will still turn into an all-out war.
The internal situation in Lebanon is deteriorating, and the entire balance system which held the relative stability in Lebanon is disappearing. The economy has been critically damaged by the war in Syria, and the growth in the past three years is minimal. And if that were not enough, this shaky economy is also carrying on its back more than a million and a half Syrian refugees.
Because of its involvement in Syria, Hezbollah has opened another military front inside Lebanon against the global Jihad, which has waged an unrestrained war against it. Hezbollah – which is in a defensive situation against an intra-Lebanese political front threatening to establish a government without it – is waging a military campaign within Syria, defending itself against military attacks in Lebanon and trying to preserve its strength on the Israel border. But this arrangement is bound to be shattered.
At the moment, there is no threat on the Israeli border. Hezbollah has no interest in breaking the status quo. But this snowball has already hit the road: At some stage, the war of armed gangs in Lebanon will reach Israel’s border fence too.