Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Is Israel Winning “The War Between The Wars” with Hezbollah/Iran?

Israeli commanders, stationed along Syria’s southern border and the Golan Heights and Quneitra Valley, with some of their forces now operating daily more than 14 km inside Syrian territory, are reportedly expressing a fair bit of confidence these days.

One reason is that they believe that Iranian-Hezbollah forces are losing the high stakes struggle to win the hearts and minds of Syria and Lebanon’s civilian population. A conflict referred to by Israel and some others in the region as the “war between the wars.”  A contest which has undergone some dramatic changes in recent months. The idea of the war between the wars involves Tel Aviv’s calculation that Israel needs to operate, far beyond Israel’s borders if necessary, to contain Iran and Hezbollah.

And as tensions escalate across the Syria-Israel border, the IDF is trying to win over some of its Syrian civilian population enemies. On 11/1/2017 the Israeli military announced that henceforth it will protect certain Syrian Druze towns such as Hader, located just across the Israel-Syria border from Majdal Shams in the Golan Heights. Whether the attacks on the Druze villages are by jihadists or pro-government militia. The Druze communities in Syria, Lebanon and Israel have publicly welcomed this protection while some pro-Zionist groups are claiming another ‘hearts and minds’ victory for Palestine’s occupiers.

Another element related to “the war between the wars” was reiterated last week by members of the US Congressional Israeli lobby explaining that Israel is now able to stop virtually all of Iran’s arms shipments to Hezbollah in Lebanon. And additionally that Israel’s military knows the location of hundreds of small-sized Hezbollah military/weapon bases across Lebanon and monitor them hourly. More than 122 attacks on Iran-Hezbollah convoys or weapon depots over the past few years being mainly small signature, late-night-early morning bombings are claimed to be major successes. Lobby spokespersons emphasize that Israel will continue this measure with likely impunity because serious retaliation from Hezbollah or its allies would mean major escalation which Tehran cannot risk.

In addition to claiming that Iran and Hezbollah are now largely contained in Syria, Israeli officials apparently believe that time is on Israel’s side during a cold war but not during a hot one.  This, as the war in Syria continues to kill evermore Iranian and Hezbollah fighters creating political problems for both among their population bases.

Israel, as part of the cold war is also expanding its recruitment of additional intelligence sources. The alleged intensive spy recruitment is focusing on Hezbollah neighborhoods across Lebanon as many in the formerly supportive population continue losing faith in the “Resistance “and succumbed to large sums of cash-no questions asked- being offered by Washington and Tel Aviv. Several claimed Israeli spies have been arrested by Hezbollah and Lebanese intelligence agents. In the past year hundreds of Israelis have started making pilgrimages to holy sites in Lebanon using special “Palestinian passports” issued with the cooperation of Israel’s government and accepted by Lebanon’s. Groups comprising approximately 50 people, spend a week in Lebanon on trips discretely organized under the radar by Christian clergymen.

Hezbollah suspects that some of the ‘pilgrims’ may be spies and their movements, from the moment of arrival at Beirut’s Hariri airport are closely monitored. Especially when the Israeli’s make ‘side-trip’ contacts with Lebanese Christian ‘ Pilgrimage representatives’ or while on ‘shopping trips.’

Israel is also recruiting spies among Syrians, particularly in South and North Syria and recently has taken to revealing ID’s and personal information of Hezbollah and Iranian commanders that earlier would not be disclosed. One example is last week the IDF “outed” Munir Ali NaimShati, (known in this observers Dahiyeh neighborhood of Haret Hreik as Hajj Hashem) the head of Hezbollah’s southern command in Syria. Mr. Shati is in charge of Hezbollah’s

3000-plus fighters in southern Syria and of the “Resistance” project to establish a military base near the Israeli border in the Golan Heights.

Several Iranians IRCG officers, as well as Hezbollah’s Jihad Mughniyeh (son of Imad, Hezbollah’s military commander killed in Damascus in 2008 by a joint CIA-Mossad operation) and Samir Kuntar, were killed in 2015 allegedly by Israeli air strikes. Some claim both were killed by friendly forces for political reasons. Some hold Iran’s Al Quds force of responsibility for the killings in order to send a message to Hezbollah’s leadership about towing the Tehran line more assiduously. Another claimed victim of the same Tehran-Dahiyeh tension was Mustafa Badreddine, whose role was being in charge of Hezbollah forces since the beginning of the rebellion in 2011 when Hezbollah quickly entered Syria. He was allegedly killed in May of 2016 on orders of Iran’s IRGC commander Qassim Soleimani. Badreddine reportedly complained that Al Quds commander Qassim Soleimani, a political rival of Nasrallah’s, was sending Hezbollah fighters needlessly to their death in Aleppo’s front to spare risks to Tehran’s IRGC fighters.

Some of Hezbollah’s recent actions involving its erstwhile unquestioning Shia supporters in Lebanon have also encouraged Tel Aviv in ‘the war between the wars.’ One example was documented on 10/23/2017  when Lebanese police, green-lighted by Hezbollah, raided unlicensed street vendors near the main headquarters of Hezbollah, resulting in vitriolic expressions of discontent targeting the Party of God. Lebanon’s  politicized Internal Security Forces (ISF) supportive of Hezbollah, was instructed to use bulldozers to demolish stores in the Hay al-Sollom neighborhood, where the residents for years have sold coffee and mobile phones. In reaction to the destruction of their livelihoods, scores of mainly Shia residents poured into the streets and began burning tires and blocking roads. Several of the protesters were shown on Lebanese media cursing, not the Lebanese government, but rather condemning Hezbollah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah, who they blamed for the loss of their livelihoods and involvement in Syria’s civil war. One woman addressed Nasrallah directly after she discovered her shop — her family’s only source of income – a pile of rubble: “We all provided martyrs for you in Syria. I have three injured sons. And this is how you’re treating us?” Another man yelled at the camera, “Syria can go to hell, along with Hassan Nasrallah!”

One veteran Lebanese journalist, HaninGhabber explained recently: “It is no coincidence that this exceptional act of revolt occurred in one of Dahiya’s poorest neighborhoods. As much as the Syria war has changed Hezbollah militarily and expanded its regional role, it has also changed the Lebanese Shia community and its perceptions of the group. Class divisions in Dahiya are more drastic than ever — the poor neighborhoods are providing fighters while the upper middle class and rich neighborhoods are benefiting from the war. “

Some Lebanese analysts argue that Hezbollah is paying the price for getting involved in Syria on orders from Tehran. And part of that price is its lost image as a “Resistance” organization as well as costing the lives of thousands of young Shia men. And since Hezbollah became focused on fighting in Syria, it could no longer offer law and order given the growing number of the drug cartels, petty criminals, and illegal construction and growing lawlessness. Shia street clashes are increasing in Dahiya and criticisms of Hezbollah are escalating. Lebanese Shia seeks a reasonable livelihood and basic services and have little interest in Hezbollah’s battle against so-called “Takfires” in Syria.
Israel’s accelerating “Hearts and Minds” initiatives in South Syria are also undermining support for Hezbollah and Iran. In early 2013, seven injured Syrians appeared at the border fence separating Syria from Israel, pleading for help. Israeli forces, after deliberations that reportedly reached some top military and government officials decided to treat the Syrians who reportedly would have died without immediate emergency medical care.

Four years later, the IDF claims it is providing medical and food assistance and various types of humanitarian aid to thousands of Syrians both inside Syria and within Israel as part of what it calls its “Good Neighbor” policy. An Israeli official defines this initiative as intended to assist desperate Syrians ravaged by years of civil war, and in the process stabilize the border region by showing Syria’s heretofore enemy population that Israel is not, in fact, the devil. Reportedly, no ID’s are asked for by Syrian’s arriving at the border and medical teams are advised not to inquire about patients political affiliations.

The destitute population in South Syria, some rebels and some supporters of the government, as well as increasing numbers who claim to be apolitical, plus countless thousands of internally displaced Syrians, are learning of Israel’s “Good Neighbor” policy. Consequently, the number seeking and receiving aid is growing.  One reason is the failure over the past seven years of the International Community to deliver humanitarian aid including food, water, clothing, and medical aid to Syria’s besieged civilian population.

Whether this is a significant advantage for Israel in its still cold war against Iran and Hezbollah remains to be seen, but it is unlikely to be a game changer given the deepening involvement in Syria of regional and global powers.  As well as the fact that all sides continue to largely ignore the Syrian civilian population unless a clear political advantage is certain to result.

More articles by:

Franklin Lamb volunteers with the Lebanon, France, and USA based Meals for Syrian Refugee Children Lebanon (MSRCL) which seeks to provide hot nutritional meals to Syrian and other refugee children in Lebanon. http://mealsforsyrianrefugeechildrenlebanon.com. He is reachable c/o fplamb@gmail.com.

October 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Middle East, Not Russia, Will Prove Trump’s Downfall
Ipek S. Burnett
The Assault on The New Colossus: Trump’s Threat to Close the U.S.-Mexican Border
Mary Troy Johnston
The War on Terror is the Reign of Terror
Maximilian Werner
The Rhetoric and Reality of Death by Grizzly
David Macaray
Teamsters, Hells Angels, and Self-Determination
Jeffrey Sommers
“No People, Big Problem”: Democracy and Its Discontents In Latvia
Dean Baker
Looking for the Next Crisis: the Not Very Scary World of CLOs
Binoy Kampmark
Leaking for Change: ASIO, Jakarta, and Australia’s Jerusalem Problem
Chris Wright
The Necessity of “Lesser-Evil” Voting
Muhammad Othman
Daunting Challenge for Activists: The Cook Customer “Connection”
Don Fitz
A Debate for Auditor: What the Papers Wouldn’t Say
October 22, 2018
Henry Giroux
Neoliberalism in the Age of Pedagogical Terrorism
Melvin Goodman
Washington’s Latest Cold War Maneuver: Pulling Out of the INF
David Mattson
Basket of Deplorables Revisited: Grizzly Bears at the Mercy of Wyoming
Michelle Renee Matisons
Hurricane War Zone Further Immiserates Florida Panhandle, Panama City
Tom Gill
A Storm is Brewing in Europe: Italy and Its Public Finances Are at the Center of It
Suyapa Portillo Villeda
An Illegitimate, US-Backed Regime is Fueling the Honduran Refugee Crisis
Christopher Brauchli
The Liars’ Bench
Gary Leupp
Will Trump Split the World by Endorsing a Bold-Faced Lie?
Michael Howard
The New York Times’ Animal Cruelty Fetish
Alice Slater
Time Out for Nukes!
Geoff Dutton
Yes, Virginia, There are Conspiracies—I Think
Daniel Warner
Davos in the Desert: To Attend or Not, That is Not the Question
Priti Gulati Cox – Stan Cox
Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End
Manuel E. Yepe
Pence v. China: Cold War 2.0 May Have Just Begun
Raouf Halaby
Of Pith Helmets and Sartorial Colonialism
Dan Carey
Aspirational Goals  
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail