After acknowledging responsibility of the drone downed over al-Naqab last week and claiming its members fighting for “self-defense” in Syria, Hezbollah (and consequently the whole country) is put in the face of two looming wars and an increasing gap between Lebanese religio-political groups. In his speech last Thursday, Secretary General of Hezbollah Sayyid Nasrallah claimed he has the right to launch aerial reconnaissance drones over Israel and promised to send more in the future. He also justified the presence of Hezbollah members fighting against rebels in Syria, saying they are protecting their homes. Nasrallah kept for Hezbollah the right of military supporting president Assad whenever suitable.
No doubt that “Ayoub”, the drone that penetrated Israeli airspace last week and flew more than 20 minutes over Israel without being recognized by Israeli defenses, is a precedent in the new history of Israeli-Arab conflict. It gave Hezbollah a sense of relative supremacy and caused not a little confusion in Tel-Aviv. Today, Saturday, Israeli newspaper Haaretz headlines Israel is preparing for next Lebanon war based on ‘bank’ of possible targets 95% of which are “headquarters and arsenals, located within buildings that also serve as places of residence for civilians.” Another headline of Haaretz: “IDF holds simulation of outbreak of first Lebanon war”. Though it is less likely that Israel will send troops to occupy towns and villages in south Lebanon, we remember how Hezbollah’s risky behavior (admitted risky and unplanned by Nasrallah himself) caused a 30 days war in 2006. Israel acknowledges Hezbollah as its most sophisticated enemy in the region. Hitting targets in Lebanon is inevitable in any possible war between Iran and Israel as long as Hezbollah is claiming itself and its weapon as the protector of Nation.
Lebanon, as a state, seems so frail in such a setting. “Israel is not entitled to file a complaint against Hezbollah’s reconnaissance plane with the Security Council because it is an aggressor State which practices daily attacks and repeated breaches against Lebanon and continues to violate international law and international conventions”, said the Lebanese minister of foreign affairs last week It is well known that neither SC of UN can stop Israel from starting a war, nor the Lebanese government can confront it, limit Hezbollah activity or protect civilians.
Nasrallah’s speech puts wide zones of Lebanon, Beirut and its suburbs in particular, in a direct confrontation with Syrian rebels and their Salafist and Jihadist supporters. Last week Free Syrian Army spokesman Fahd al-Masri threatened to take the fight to Hezbollah’s stronghold in Beirut’s southern suburbs. If FSA decides to “punch back” using the traditional Jihadist recopies, car bombs would be expected in crowded areas of Beirut. Even if Hezbollah commanders would be targeted, the majority of victims would be civilians. If FSA decides not to fight back, Hezbollah’s arrogant way of addressing the Syrian case and this regularly high toned tensed monologue will serve more to increase enmity between Shiites and their Sunni neighbors.
In both the Syrian and Israeli cases Hezbollah violates the sovereignty of Lebanon (before violating the sovereignty of any other country) by acting as an independent state. Hezbollah practically rejects all calls to negotiate a common Lebanese “defense strategy” with other Lebanese parties. The March 14 coalition demand that Hezbollah surrender its weapons to the Lebanese army seems out of question and the national dialogue sponsored by Lebanese President Michel Suleiman seems totally out of date with such evolving events.