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A Deadly Blow to Hezbollah's Prestige: The Victories In Syria that Hezbollah Has Championed Are Illusion

04 November 2014

By Diana Moukalled

Hezbollah's media wing and those media outlets aligned with it have recently tried to limit the spread of a video distributed by the Al-Nusra Front which shows an attack on a Hezbollah post in the Lebanese border town of Brital last week.

The video shows the corpses of Hezbollah fighters, while Al-Nusra fighters calmly and coldly roam the town before they finally gather whatever ammunition and equipment they find and leave.

The video has been branded the first footage of a confirmed attack on Hezbollah since it got involved in the Syrian war. However, this attack took place in Lebanon, not Syria, and it was carried out by non-Lebanese gunmen who violated the supposed sovereignty of the Lebanese state, killing Lebanese citizens before withdrawing. Hezbollah and the media outlets that support it have made efforts to contain the spread of this footage and remove it from YouTube. Nonetheless, images of the attack have spread and Hezbollah has suffered a major setback.

This time, Hezbollah's defeat was in the Lebanese town of Brital and not in Al-Qusayr or Yabroud—the Syrian towns it has invaded claiming to be combating terrorism and eradicating takfirists. Hezbollah launched media campaigns to spread the message that Al-Qusayr and Yabroud were bases of terrorism and asserted that the towns had to be seized in order to protect Lebanon.

The question was always how this conquest of Al-Qusayr and Yabroud would backfire. Today we are witnessing how these conquests resulted in the death and capture of Lebanese nationals and raised concerns throughout Lebanon. Al-Qusayr and Yabroud are two Sunni-majority towns in Syria that a Lebanese Shi'ite militia forcibly entered. As for Brital, it is a Lebanese Shi'ite town that a Syrian Sunni force invaded. These facts are not lost on anyone.

When Hezbollah entered Al-Qusayr, a video showed its fighters raising their banners in the town. Meanwhile, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the town's mosque was Shi'ite and that Hezbollah had rescued it from takfirists. The Al-Nusra Front has come to Lebanon and this armed terrorist group has been supplemented with Lebanese members. Al-Nusra has managed to drag Hezbollah into a battle inside Lebanon; the battle is no longer just in Syria.

Such photos and videos represent evidence of Hezbollah's actions. Likewise, Al-Nusra members standing on Brital's outskirts, shooting a video of the town and uploading it onto YouTube make it seem as though this is a counter-move in a game that the group is playing with Hezbollah.

Hezbollah has invested heavily in its image, to bolster its power and win the trust of its audience. Al-Nusra has not shaken Hezbollah's relationship with this audience, but it has begun to shake the audience's trust in Hezbollah's strength.

Hezbollah's reaction to this development, via the operation it carried out in the Shebaa Farms region a day after the attack by Al-Nusra, is an indication of the size of the injury it sustained in Brital.

The Al-Nusra Front violated Lebanese sovereignty and this resulted in the need for a united Lebanese stance.

Footage of Hezbollah fighters in Al-Qusayr have pained Syrians—similar to the pain we Lebanese felt when we learned Al-Nusra had trespassed across our borders, first in Arsal and then in Brital. The victories in Syria that Hezbollah has championed are illusions, and these illusions are literally killing us in Lebanon.

Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the Isreali "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained world wide recognition and was named one of the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in 2004. 

 

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