I can’t answer all the questions on one foot, but just to put down here, I gave in a paper two Fridays ago ending with “history repeats itself the attack of Hezbollah is near.” Why did I write that?
A Hezbollah flag flutters in the southern Lebanese village of Khiam, near the border with Israel, Lebanon July 28, 2020 / (photo credit: REUTERS/AZIZ TAHER)
Many have been asking me “what is the story with Lebanon, and why are they attacking us?”
I can’t answer all the questions on one foot, but just to put down here, I gave in a paper two Fridays ago ending with “history repeats itself the attack of Hezbollah is near.”
So why did I write that? well…
1989: Taif Agreement – All of Lebanon’s militias will disarm with one exception: Hezbollah.
The militia retains its arms in order to remain a “resistance force” against Israel on the southern border.
2005: After Syria leaves Lebanon, the Lebanese parliament is pressured to finally disarm Hezbollah.
For Hezbollah, disarming means not just political suicide but their likely death at the hands of those that they had ruled for 30 years.
Hezbollah begins committing small-scale raids on Israeli forces in order to highlight the organization’s necessity.
2006: A Hezbollah raid goes too far and deteriorates into all-out war. Although Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah comes out with an official statement regretting the attack (the only Arab leader that ever officially regretted something), Hezbollah emerges from the war stronger than ever before. The idea of disarming Hezbollah is shelved.
2008: The Lebanese cabinet announces decisions designed to weaken Hezbollah after it was caught spying on the opposition’s Alliance.
Consequence: Hezbollah fighters seized control of several West Beirut neighborhoods, including Beirut’s international airport. Hezbollah also demonstrates its ability to pull-off a complete military takeover, as Lebanon’s tiny “police force” military is no match for the heavily armed and experienced Hezbollah militia. The question of Hezbollah’s weapons was postponed, again.
2020: Germany outlaws Hezbollah and calls on other European countries to do so as well.
Lebanon understands that the Trump administration might be coming to an end and is trying to stop their internal threat that is Hezbollah before it is too late.
During the Obama administration, Hezbollah received an estimated $1 billion annually from Iran. Since Trump took office, sanctions on Iran cut the aid in half amid Lebanon’s escalating political instability. Hezbollah had to turn to drug smuggling in order to maintain its ability to pay salaries.
Like in 2006 and 2008, Hezbollah now needs to prove its necessity. This puts them in a corner in what Israelis call “Let me die with the Philistines,” or a slogan meaning “If I go down, I might as well take them down with me.”
Will history repeat itself? Only time will tell.
July 27: Hezbollah attacks Israel but unlike in previous instances, it does not take responsibility and claims that only the enemy (Israel) attacked civilians in their homes and wounded them. Notably, Hezbollah chose to attack in the Sha’ba Farms, a region bordering Syria that Lebanon claims as its own.
Part of Hezbollah’s official response: “The Islamic Resistance affirms that there has been no attack or shooting on its part. Rather, it was only one party, which was the fearful, anxious and tense enemy” and then added that the enemy shelled and wounded civilians in their homes in the village of Al-Habaria, something that will not be tolerated. Victory is from Allah.
Hezbollah appears to be desperately fighting to continue retaining its arms, even at the expense of its own soldiers.
Another interesting point is that unlike in the past, Hezbollah has realized that Lebanese public opinion opposes another war with Israel. Lebanese citizens are more interested in trying to survive their corrupt government bankrupt financial state and the second wave of COVID-19. With Hezbollah’s popularity plummeting, it needs the support of the locals to such an extent that it is denying its attacks on its historic enemy (Israel).
Will they attack again?
Hezbollah is taking to consideration that it is more worthwhile to attack under a Biden Administration then a Trump one, so likely they will wait until then. On the other hand, they have just learnt that Israel will defend itself with wearing silk gloves, which makes these small attacks more worthwhile and will probably do a couple more “light” attacks just to bring justification of their arms to use them in the protecting of Lebanon.