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Op-Ed: FROM THE ISRAELI PRESS: Nasrallah-Your Time is Up

Hizbullah's support for Syria's Assad has led to scathing Arab criticism of its leader, who, once Assad falls, will have to flee Lebanon to save his own life.
Published: Saturday, October 20, 2012 10:08 PM


An organization that calls itself "Arab Intellectuals United", headed by a Palestinian Arab named Amar el Azam, has published a news release that calls for Hizbullah head Hassan Nasrallah to remove his forces from Syria immediately – and in particular, to get rid of the 1500 Hizbullah fighters that Azam claims are guarding President Bashar Assad.

The following is a translation of the release (brackets by the writer):

"We, who believed in you and supported you in the July 2006 war [against Israel, M.K.], are totally disgusted and repelled by you, now that you are entangled in the partnership to spill Syrian blood. Your shameful ethnic Shiite loyalty has overcome your counterfeit Arab character. In the past, we fantasized that the Lebanese Shiites are historically, culturally, nationally and religiously the closest to their Sunni Arab brothers, but the turban on your head was manufactured in Kom [the ayatollah's city in Iran, M.K.] and explains why you are a pawn of the Iranians in spilling Syrian blood.

"Your part in eliminating many Lebanese politicians and intellectuals  [such as Rafiq Hariri, M.K.] and the part that you are playing in putting down the Syrian rebellion, are harbingers of the end of your leadership, and you should be brought to judgment as a person who committed war crimes against the Arab people and humanity.  We promise to open Shiite religious centers where thousands will mourn you after you have been eliminated along with your gang of mercenaries.

We call upon you to save the vestiges of profaned Arab honor, before your traitorous artillery [Hizbullah arms that were meant only for fighting Zionists, M.K.] will be thrown soundlessly into the nearest dump."

Criticism of the Hizbullah is not limited to this intellectual organization, and includes most of the organizations and spokesman in the Arab world, including Shiites- and not just Shiites – in Lebanon. The Lebanese Shiites have always criticized the accord between the Arab Hizbullah and the Iranians, an agreement that was directed against Sunni Arabs and Christians, but their criticism was pushed aside in the aftermath of the so-called "victory" of 2006.

The Second Lebanon War in 2006 caused the death of 1300 Lebanese, most of them Hizbullah fighters, and the destruction of infrastructure and dwellings; a half million refugees fled Southern Lebanon. Despite all that, the Hizbullah propaganda machine succeeded in convincing the Lebanese that the defeat was a victory.   After all, Nasrallah survived, refused to return the two Israeli soldiers he had kidnapped, Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser Hy"d, and refused stubbornly to agree to give up Hizbullah weapons, claiming that they were for fighting the Zionist enemy and freeing captured lands.

HIzbullah became the most admired organization in the Arab world, because it succeeded where all the Arab armies failed, and Nasrallah became a hero of the Arab peoples because he stuck unwaveringly to his goal. The Arab world ignored the fact that Hizbullah is a Shiite organization, while the overwhelming majority of Arabs are Sunni, and that the Hizbullah is actually an extension of Iran, a Moslem but non-Arab nation. Arab admiration for Nasrallah in 2006 was sky high.

Even though UNIFIL forces were strengthened, as was their field of operations, by UN Resolution 1701, the Syria-Lebanon border continued to be wide open to the passage of rockets, arms and weapons that flowed unhindered from Iran through Syria and on to Lebanon. HIzbullah was rehabilitated and strengthened in a coordinated Syrian-Iran operation and owes its existence to both of those countries. If not for Hafez and Bashar Assad and the Iranian Imams Khamenei and Khomeini, the Shiite's in Lebanon, along with their aging militia Amal, would have remained neglected and insignificant.

Hizbullah spokesmen expressed total support for the Syrian regime from the start of the anti-Bashar demonstrations in 2011, for their hearts are with the Damascus regime and not with the mostly Sunni crowds trying to overturn it. The first reports that Hizbullah fighters, mostly sharpshooters, had reached Syria to help suppress the still non-violent protests were in June 2011.

All through 2012, there were constant reports of particularly cruel "Lebanese" fighters alongside Assad's army, of secret burials of Lebanese dead near the Syrian border, and of the clampdown that Hizbullah maintained over their families to prevent any external signs of mourning – and of Lebanese prisoners in the hands of the Syrian rebels. HIzbullah generally ignored the rumors and when it did refer to them, it was to deny them.

The Arab media, however, did not remain silent and maintained continuous coverage of Hizbullah involvement in Syria, especially after it became known several weeks ago that the Free Syria army is negotiating the release of tens of Hizbullah fighters it had taken prisoner.

The Arab world discovered that the hero of 2006, Hizbullah, had become a murderer of Arabs, an eliminator of Muslims, an enemy of Sunnis. Hizbullah detractors, mainly in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates, ridiculed the organization spokesmen's claim that its weapons are for fighting Israel and that its only mission is against the Zionists. "How many Zionists are in Damascus? And in Homs?" they asked.

Nasrallah has no choice but to support Assad today because of the many years he received support from Assad and because his Iranian patron wholeheartedly supports the Assad regime.

In a discussion this week on BBC radio, the Hizbullah spokesman said that if there are Hizbullah fighters in Syria, they are only there to defend Lebanon's borders from "terrorists" that threaten Lebanese citizens.

In response, the Free Syria Army representative threatened that after their forces eliminate Assad and his henchmen, 23 million Syrians will settle accounts with the Hizbullah gang and eliminate Hassan Nasrallah – even if he continues to hide like a mouse in his bunker in the southern suburb of Beirut, Dahyeh, a Shiite stronghold.

This threat and Assad's precarious situation have made Nasrallah appear to be someone who bet on the wrong horse, because when Assad falls, Nasrallah will be persona non grata and  have to flee Lebanon to avoid assassination.

Without doubt, when the bloody regime of Assad falls, the status of Hizbullah will be severely shaken – and in one fell swoop the Syrian and Lebanese tentacle of the Iranian octopus will be cut off.

This may result in feuding within the Iranian regime over whose fault the decision to bet on Assad was, and why he was allowed to be defeated. This dispute might even affect the unity of the Ayatollah's control and hasten its end.

An important question is how the Iranian will react to the approaching double defeat of Assad and Hizbullah. Will they accept it as heavenly ordained and inevitable or will they act decisively against Assad's opponents? Iran could conceivably send large military forces - armored divisions, for example - to Syria via Iraq. Iran, may we inform those in the White House, is now in almost complete control of what happens in Iraq.

The passage of Iranian forces will be at the official and legal invitation of the Iraqi and Syrian governments and therefore pose no problem for Iran.

Will Turkey intervene by attacking the Iranian forces flowing into Syria via Iraq? Will the US or NATO act? What will Israel do to prevent the presence of Iranian forces opposite the Golan Heights? And how will the world react to Iranian forces entering Syria if Iran announces that it has a nuclear bomb?

Another dilemma that the world, and Israel in particular, must address is the situation in Jordan. Iraq, which borders Jordan on the east, has become, ever since NATO forces left the country a year ago, an 'honorary member' of the Iranian coalition. An Iranian army in Iraq with that government's permission, could easily go on to Jordan, not only to Syria, and threaten Saudi Arabia as well as Israel.

The possibility – even the remote one – that this could occur, must make Israel resist any thought of giving up the Jordan Valley, as that is the only area where Israel could stop a foreign force, Iranian or Iraqi, that might attempt to attack Israel from the east. A significant fighting force that succeeds in crossing the Jordan Valley from east to west may bring the next war to the streets of Tel Aviv.

Translated from the Hebrew newspaper Makor Rishon, posted with the author's permission.