Sept. 14, 2018
Another War in Lebanon? – Daniel L. Byman
Hizbullah’s participation in the Syrian civil war is a source of both strength and weakness. Hizbullah sent thousands of fighters to Syria where they gained valuable skills. But in other ways the group is weaker.
Before the war, Hizbullah enjoyed some respect from Lebanon’s Sunni Muslim and Christian communities for its relative lack of corruption, ability to provide services effectively in areas it controlled, and steadfast opposition to Israel.
Siding with the butcher Assad against the Sunni Muslim opposition, however, made Hizbullah look like an Iranian- and Syrian-controlled sectarian actor. For much of the Sunni Arab world, Hizbullah became the devil incarnate. Lebanese Shiites bore the brunt of the casualties Hizbullah suffered in Syria – at least 1,400 – and are not eager to fight another war. Moreover, while Hizbullah in Syria faced lightly armed and poorly trained rebels, the skills learned would do them little good defending against well-trained Israeli forces. The writer is a senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings. (Brookings Institution)