The fighting in Syria has not only approached Israel’s borders, but equally as important, is embroiling Lebanon via Hezbollah, who have been involving themselves in the fighting in Syria, to the extent of conducting ground offences there. (h/t Legal Insurrection):
Free Syrian Army spokesperson Louay al-Moqdad said that the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah has been coordinating with the Syrian army and is now waging ground offensives inside Syria.
“For the first time [Hezbollah] is conducting ground offensives [in Qusayr] with the help of the arsenal stationed in Syrian villages and Lebanese border-towns that are under its control,” Moqdad said in remarks published by An-Nahar newspaper on Monday.
He added that the military operations of Hezbollah were lead by two of its officials, Mustafa Badreddine Din and Wafiq Safa.
Badreddine was indicted by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon for involvement in the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.
On Sunday A Hezbollah official said that three Lebanese Shiites have been killed in clashes in Syria, as the opposition accused the Shiite militant group of fighting alongside its regime allies.
In parallel to their military involvement, Hezbollah are working to increase their political influence in Syria, and by proxy that of Iran, by offering asylum to Syrian Alawite officer. This offer provides Hezbollah itself with multiple benefits:
Iran is working to place all of Lebanon under its control because if the Syrian regime stays, its position will not be healthy or secure, and if it fails and Iran is unable to help the Alawites establish their state, Iran will still have a vital foothold in the Mediterranean. That is why, according to reliable sources, Hezbollah began last month to propose to Alawite officers in the Syrian army to seek refuge in Lebanon.
On one hand, the aim of this offer was to calm down the growing concern of many Alawite officers that they may be tried as war criminals or be the targets of bloody liquidation after they have become convinced that the regime will fall sooner or later. On the other hand, the offer aims at reinforcing the ranks of Hezbollah’s fighters with veteran Alawite officers with high combat experience.
These moves are led from behind the scenes by one of the security aides of Hezbollah’s secretary general through party elements that support the regime’s confrontation of the armed opposition inside Syria. Last month, Hezbollah’s secretary general asked his security assistant to inform party elements working with and coordinating with Syrian officers and offer them a “package deal” from which the two sides would gain on the day that Assad falls. The offer was made following signals and messages that Hezbollah officials received from their military elements in the field in which they hint at the growing concern of the Alawite officers. The Hezbollah elements in Syria that are providing training and assistance to the forces loyal to Assad are in contact with the various military units, including the Republican Guard.
The aim of the offer that is part of Hezbollah’s preparations for after Assad’s fall is to insure the continuity of Hezbollah’s military and political power in Lebanon. The reason is that in case the opposition in Lebanon becomes united with the help and support of the international community, it will try to undermine Hezbollah’s power after it had lost Syria’s strategic support.
Meanwhile Hezbollah’s encroachment into Europe has many people very worried indeed. In fact Bulgaria has been urging the Europeans to blacklist Hezbollah in order to prevent further terror attacks on its soil:
The European Union must take collective action against Hezbollah, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov said on Monday morning.
Mladenov attended a meeting in Brussels to brief his counterparts on an initial investigative Bulgarian report which blamed Hezbollah for the bombing outside the Burgas airport that killed five Israeli tourists and the Bulgarian bus driver last July.
“We believe the attack that happened in Burgas last year was organized by people connected to the military wing of Hezbollah,” Mladenov said.
“We in Europe need to take collective measures to make sure that such attacks will never happen again on EU soil, that we are protected as the EU,” he said.
“We must send a strong message to the rest of the world that activities like this are unacceptable, no matter where they are planned or executed,” he added.
Given the extremely worrying developments in Syria, and taken together with the announcement by the Bulgarian authorities that Hezbollah was behind the bombing of the Israeli tourist bus last summer, one would think that the EU would finally agree to blacklist Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.
The European Union is inclined to not declare Hezbollah a terror organization, even through evidence indicates that operatives of the Shiite Lebanese group were behind a lethal attack on Israelis abroad, EU sources quoted by Israel Radio said Saturday night.
Five Israeli tourists and a local bus driver were killed in the bombing in the Bulgarian resort town of Burgas on July 18, 2012.
Reportedly, despite the fact that Bulgaria found Hezbollah responsible for the attack, even naming its prime suspects in Lebanon, the EU’s tendency is to level sanctions only on the people suspected of direct involvement, and not at the organization as a whole.
Many countries consider Hezbollah a terror organization, including Israel, the United States, Canada, the UK, Egypt and Bahrain.
Officially labeling Hezbollah a terrorist entity would significantly hamper the organization’s ability to operate. But doing so requires unanimity among the EU’s 27 member states.
On Friday, France, the main force in the EU that has thus far resisted initiatives to name Hezbollah a terror group, said it may yet reconsider its policy.
One can understand the French, and the rest of the Europeans, for being terrified of Hezbollah. But burying their head in the sand, or giving in to blackmail, will not bring peace and quiet. It will only ensure, to paraphrase Churchill, that the crocodile will eat them last. We must all, Israelis, Europeans and Americans, present a united and unified front against Hezbollah and its allies in order to prevent its growth and spread across the region, acting as a proxy for the malign and dangerous Iranian regime.