Now that the Syrian war has arrived to Lebanon through the suicide bombing that took place in front of the Iranian embassy this week, the country has become a likely candidate for “Iraqization,” as well as increasingly likely to be subjected to “preemptive” Israeli military strikes, having turned into a battlefield between Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda, along with jihadists of various backgrounds and goals. Lebanon has become an unbridled neighbor, lacking a government and rife with armed fighters and militias. Israel fears such chaos at its border and is laying out contingency plans for every possibility. All eyes are now turned towards the way in which Hezbollah, or the Revolutionary Guard (Pasdaran) affiliated with the Iranian government, might carry out its revenge, and the nature of such an operation, in response to the two terrorist suicide attacks against the Iranian embassy in Beirut’s Southern Suburb (Dahieh) – which led to the death of 25 people, with more than 150 wounded, and for which responsibility has been claimed by the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Abdullah Azzam Brigades. There has been unanimous international condemnation of the terrorist attack, as well as of Al-Qaeda and its affiliates wherever they may be active, whether inside of Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, or against American, European, Russian and Chinese targets wherever they may be. Indeed, this is a destructive terrorist organization, exploiting the issues of the Arab region to achieve its own ideological and sectarian goals. It has cost the Arabs dearly on the international scene, ever since it carried out the September 11 terrorist attacks against the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York. Yet, facing near-unanimous international condemnation of the likes of the Al-Nusra Front, which the Security Council has listed as a terrorist organization amid its battle against the regime in Damascus due to its connections to Al-Qaeda, is near-consensus among Security Council members on turning a blind eye to the role played by Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guard on the battlefield in Syria under Iranian military leadership. Some Western countries have listed Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist organization, yet no measures have been taken at the Security Council, neither against Hezbollah’s publicly declared military engagement in Syria, nor against Iran’s covert involvement there, which represents the blatant violation of a Security Council resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter banning Iran from providing military assistance and supplying weapons beyond its borders. There is a certain background and “justifications” for such a paradox among those responsible for it, as long as the matter remains restricted to the Syrian battlefield. But now that the war between, on the one hand, Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guard, and on the other Al-Qaeda and its affiliates, has reached the fragile and uncontrolled arena of Lebanon, this international decision to keep Lebanon and Israel outside the fighting has collapsed with it, and it has become necessary to demand that the international community take serious measures to rein in the situation. It has become urgent for the regional forces concerned to reconsider their strategic and arbitrary policies alike. Indeed, what took place this week in Beirut represents a major juncture in the regional equation.
The countries in the region engaged in Syria and Lebanon are countries that are relatively safe within their own borders. They are neither the scenes of civil wars nor of the proxy wars of others. It is held against some of them that they use countries like Syria, Lebanon and Iraq as arenas for confrontation and attrition, while their bilateral relations are – in appearance – based on mutual respect and non-interference in the affairs of others. Underneath this, the disagreement is a fundamental one, at the sectarian and ideological levels, as well as within the framework of the regional balance of power and the leadership of the Muslim World. Iran’s relations with the United States have been striking, not just under the Shah when it had been the primary US ally, but also under the Iranian Revolution. Indeed, the United States struck at the chords of the Iran-Iraq war and of the balance between Sunnis and Shiites, at times in favor of Iraq and at others in favor of Iran, within a carefully designed strategy. Then came former President George W. Bush to offer Iraq to Iran within the framework of his War on Terror. President Barack Obama has followed in Bush’s footsteps, and he now wants to consecrate the relationship between the United States and Iran by strengthening Iran’s regional role in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, which represents within the framework of this American strategy Iran’s link to Israel. This is thus the strategic policy laid out by the American “establishment”.
All this talk of cooperation between the Arab Gulf states and Israel in the face of Iran’s expansion is neither logical nor realistic. Indeed, the relationship between Iran and Israel is as stable as it has historically been between the Persians and the Jews. There is perhaps a tactical need for Israel today to somewhat rein in President Barack Obama’s enthusiasm towards Iran, so as for his rush not to prevent him from paying his dues to Israel. And perhaps such a need meets with the need of the Arab Gulf states concerned for anything that might help to “put the brakes” on the Obama administration and its obsession with Iran. Yet this is a tactical step that should not blind us to the long-term strategies of any and all of the regional and international players.
What the leaders of the United States, Russia, China, Iran and Israel agree on today will meet with the interests of the Syrian government and its ally Hezbollah, and that is eradicating those referred to as Takfiris, Jihadists and Salafists. They have all come to believe that their enemies are the Sunnis – America because of the events of September 11, 2001; Russia and China because their Muslim problem is a Sunni one; and Israel because its battle is against the Arabs, not the Persians. Al-Qaeda and its affiliates have provided all of the ammunition needed for such a gathering, due to their resorting to terrorism as a strategy and as a method, and can be considered to represent the side that is in effect carrying out the interests of this gathering. Most surprising is the fact that the funding of Al-Qaeda and its derivates comes through Arab channels mostly connected to individuals and families who delude themselves into thinking that they are defending Islam, ....
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