Iran Focus

London, 20 Oct - Iran-backed Hezbollah gained approval with the non-Shiite population of Lebanon through confrontation with Israel, but Hezbollah has been involved in the Syrian war since it began. Its participation has affected Lebanese sympathies.

Several Lebanese politicians and other famous people have condemned Hezbollah for its fight against the Syrian people. However, if Assad fails in Syria, Hezbollah will be cut off from Iran’s weapon supplies.

Hezbollah has established itself in Lebanon’s domestic and foreign policy. Hezbollah, along with the Iranian forces, is also involved in the development and training of militarized groups, consisting mostly of Shiites and Alawites. Assad’s government uses them mainly for security and patrolling.

Hezbollah has suffered significant losses in Syria. Several of its commanders, including Abdel Hamid Mahmoud Shri, Ali al-Hadi al-Ashiq, and Mustafa Badreddine were killed in the war. In fact, Hezbollah’s losses in Syria exceed its losses in the war with Israel, believed to be about 2,000 fighters. The US believes that Hezbollah has deployed up to 7,000 fighters in Syria, a massive figure for this organization.

Hezbollah has also taken part in a series of systematic abuse of Sunnis as they were passed through checkpoints.

Hezbollah’s relations with certain Iraqi militants is strained, although all Shiite groups are believed to be under the patronage of Iran.

Regarding the Syrian conflict, Muqtada-al-Sadr has a point of view that is different from that of other Shiite groups and Iran, and has spoken publicly about it. Sadr’s supporters have not only refused to join Hezbollah, but have opposed Hezbollah on a number of issues.

Sadr is the only major Shiite leader who has called upon Bashar Assad to step down and end the war. This also provided an opportunity for Sadr to show Tehran that he has no intention of being Tehran’s puppet.

Competing with Hezbollah may be an attempt by Sadr to reclaim a unique role in the post-war architecture of Syria. Still, this may be difficult, as Hezbollah is strong in Syria.

Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, recently said that “no one can force them to leave Syria.” This suggests that Hezbollah intends to entrench itself in Syria and, using the same methods it did in southern Lebanon, take charge of certain Syrian districts.

In becoming overly distracted with Syria, though, Hezbollah risks being taken by surprise, in the event of a military operation by Israeli forces.

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