Defeating Assad Brings about Hezbollah's Downfall
23 August 2016
By Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Since its establishment in the early 80s, the Lebanon based militant group
known as Hezbollah had yet to suffer the losses it now experiences in Syria.
The losses encountered with the Syrian civil war outweigh all those undergone
against Israel combined.
With continuous draining of strengths, the most optimistic estimations place
Hezbollah's loss at a thousand members of its elite, while other estimations
speak of at least a 3,000 lost.
The so-called Hezbollah bereaved a score of noteworthy military commanders,
among which – according to Capitan Matthew Levitt and Nadav Pollak- are: Fawzi
Ayoub, a Lebanese-Canadian Hezbollah commander who is also wanted by the U.S.
Federal Bureau of Investigation, killed in Daraa, southwestern Syria; Hassan
Hussein al Hajj, another elite commander reportedly killed in Idlib battles,
taking place in northwestern Syria, bordering Turkey; Khalil Mohammed Hamed
Khalil, another Hezbollah prominent figure reported dead in Homs; Ali Fayad,
killed in Aleppo; Hezbollah's crème de la crème Khalil Ali Hassan, also killed
in Aleppo earlier June; last but not least, Hezbollah's top leader Mustafa
Baddreddine reported killed last May. All of the above mentioned had fell at
the hands of Syrian opposition fighters or at the hands of other militias in
Hezbollah had long kept its losses confidential – members killed and which
ranks they occupy. The group would only announce its losses at the closest
sense of someone else beating it to the punch and publishing such information
The question posed is that whether the losses suffered will eventually
influence Hezbollah's presence as a local Lebanese force or even as an
external annex militia to the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)?
Unlike Iran, Hezbollah cannot force recruitment upon Shi'ite youth in Lebanon,
nor does the group enjoy the means in persuading the young to join its
ranks—knowing that most of the group's recruitment is devised by exploiting
religious content, political publicity and materialistic temptations.
The so-called Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah had promised to
terminate all Takfiris in a few months.
However, after the Syrian war stretching on for five years – four of which
Hezbollah participated in- would the group still be able to sustain the fight
for as long as it may go?
The poorest move taken by the group is that Hezbollah's exhaustive
contribution surpassed the embattlement in Syria; following Iran's bidding,
the group now deploys recruits to Iraq, while already dealing with a state of
ongoing alertness in Lebanon.
On another level, Hezbollah expended far more than blood and funds, the group
had spent all Arab's world support, tarnishing its reputation which was built
on fighting Israel.
Should the Iranian venture fail in Syria, the lethal aftermath will not be
restricted to affect Hezbollah rather than the whole of Lebanon. The group
will perceive danger within its supportive sect as well; Hezbollah grew
accustomed to justify its defeat by arguing to have thwarted Israeli ultimate
goals—such was the case in the war against Israel in 2006!
If Hezbollah fails in Syria, or otherwise keeps getting defeated, the group
would be put in a tight domestic situation.
They will be unable to garner the support of Lebanese Shi'ites after having
embarked on a frontier so far from home, with an excuse as weak as defending
their safety. Fighting on behalf of Iranian interests, had reduced Hezbollah
fighters to no other than militias for hire, serving anywhere at any
time—fighting in Syria came at a high cost without ensuring promised security.
Going head to head with Israel has become a far catch, especially with Iran
landing the nuclear deal with the West. Hezbollah's weakened military
existence also plays a part. Therefore, Hezbollah's sole argument for existing
as an armed militia has been led out of hand and inexplicable to the
Hezbollah enduring as a Lebanese institution is now considerably challenged.
With all that being said and knowing the aftermath it entails beyond Syria and
Lebanon, Hezbollah and Iran refuse any solution which removes Bashar Assad
from full authority. If Assad is to step down from power, it would translate
to Hezbollah's expiry in Lebanon– In the end, the price Hezbollah paid in
Syria is far too steep.
The price paid in Syria is exactly what Hezbollah attempted to dodge in its
long confrontation with Israel- which is hiding behind civilians in the name
of recovering capacities or luring the attack in.
The foul enactment in Syria had cost Hezbollah each of its reputation,
history, popularity, legitimacy, youth and leaders.
Al Rashed is the general manager of Al -Arabiya television. He is also the
former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al- Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly
magazine, Al Majalla. He is also a senior Columnist in the daily newspapers of
Al Madina and Al Bilad. He is a US post-graduate degree in mass
communications. He has been a guest on many TV current affairs programs. He is
currently based in Dubai.