Hezbollah and the Syrian regime: surviving by sticking to old alliances?

A short interview with a former young militant from Hebzollah about the party’s position on the Syrian uprising. Originally published in The Majalla.

Hezbollah Stubborn on Syria

Former Hezbollah fighter: The party will not change its position on Syria and it will survive after Assad.

Hezbollah-Fighters

An interview with Hussein, a 22 year-old former Hezbollah member and fighter. Originally from Nabatiyeh (Southern Lebanon). Hussein now lives in Beirut. In 2006, during the Israeli aggression on Lebanon, he was only 16 and his responsibilities included delivering Kalashnikov ammunition to the fighters. In 2008, during the clashes between the March 14 coalition and Hezbollah, he was holding his gun in the streets of Beirut.

The Majalla: Do you fear a scenario for Lebanon similar to 2008, which featured confrontations between pro-Syrian and anti-Syrian camps? Some media close to the March 14 coalition claim that more weapons are arriving in the Southern suburbs (Al-Dahiyeh Al-Junubiyyeh).

No, listen, Hezbollah knows perfectly that it would lose in the outbreak of a civil war. What happened in 2008 was different: there was no looting and civilians were not harmed, on the contrary, clashes took place between armed factions and Hezbollah was not the only one involved.

Q: Do you think there is any possibility Hezbollah will change its position with regards to the Syrian revolution?

Not after the bombings on the 19th of July [when three leading figures of the Syrian regime, Assef Shawkat, Dawud Rajha and Hassan Turkmani, were killed]. Before these attacks, Nasrullah recognized the necessity of a political change led by the regime, and the mistakes committed by Damascus. However, figures like Hassan Turkmani played a crucial role in supplying weapons to the Resistance [Hezbollah] and I haven’t seen Nasrullah so furious since the murder of Imad Mughniyeh [Hezbollah’s leading military official killed in a car-bombing in Damascus in 2008]. Turkmani and Rajha could have helped launching a political way out, but those chosen to replace them believe exclusively in the military solution.

Q: Do Lebanese Shi’as still believe in the survival of the Syrian regime?

Yes, most of them. The Syrian Government has launched its offensive on Aleppo and maintaining control over the economic capital and Damascus would ensure a good position to resist, even if the countryside is in the hands of the rebels. On the contrary, in case the regime loses Aleppo, we would have another war in the Middle East: Bashar Al-Assad would attack Israel before giving up and I am sure that many Syrians would join us, particularly those who have remained neutral so far.

Q: The Syrian opposition has repeatedly accused Hezbollah of sending special forces to support the Syrian Army, how do you comment on this?

Hezbollah is not in Syria. The party’s special forces wouldn’t be wasted there: they’re the outcome of expensive military training in Iran, aimed at confronting the main enemy, Israel.

Q: Do you fear isolation if the Syrian regime collapses?

I don’t fear isolation, even today Hezbollah keeps on receiving weapons, regardless of what is happening in Syria. Provided that the Muslim Brotherhood seize power in Syria, both Russia and China will keep the channels open between the Resistance [Hezbollah] and Iran. Tehran is still convinced of the survival of Assad, but it will have enough time to pursue an agreement with a hypothetical new Syrian Government led by the Muslim Brotherhood, just like it’s doing in Egypt with [President] Morsi.

 

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