If Israel does invade, they will face a far more formidable resistance than when they lost to Hezbollah in 2006.
Joseph Aoun, the commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces has put the military “full readiness” mode after observing the “Israeli enemy” conducting provocative maneuvers on Lebanon’s southern border.
This comes as Lebanese President Michel Aoun stated,
Israeli targeting still continues and it is the right of the Lebanese to resist it and foil its plans by all available means”.
In conjunction with these statements, Hezbollah’s leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah announced yesterday that its volunteers would return from Iraq to Lebanon as ISIS had been neutralized in Iraq. The timing indicates that while Hezbollah has helped Iraq to achieve victory against terrorism, reinforcements are now needed in Lebanon as many fear another Israeli invasion.
During his recent visit to Moscow, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil warned Israel that if it seeks to start another war with Lebanon, the Israeli invaders will not be successful. Bassil also praised the role of Hezbollah in helping to fight terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria and Iraq, while also praising Hezbollah’s role as a defender of Lebanese sovereignty.
With Israel and Saudi Arabia acting as de-facto allies, even more brazenly than in the past, many Lebanese fear that Israel will invade Lebanon yet again, in-line with Saudi statements that Hezbollah is a threat to regional security. Hezbollah and its international partner Iran have slammed Saudi statements as “lies”.
Objectively, Hezbollah does not threaten anything except the ability of Israel to easily occupy Lebanon and the ability of terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda to gain footholds in Lebanon. Hezbollah’s cooperation with the Syrian Arab Army and Iraqi Armed Forces is fully legal as Baghdad and Damascus have welcomed Hezbollah’s assistance in the war again terrorism. Indeed, Hezbollah fighters often fight side-by-side with Syrian Arab Army soldiers and Iraqi soldiers.
Saudi Arabia has further accused Iran of supplying Yemen’s Houthis with long-range missiles via Hezbollah. This accusation is absurd due to the logistical impossibility of such things at the present time.
Yemen remains under a Saudi naval blockade and any Iranian ships attempting to supply Houthis would be instantly visible to all international parties. Furthermore, as Hezbollah has neither an air force nor navy, the idea that Iran could somehow supply Yemen via Hezbollah is not only fiction but very poor fiction.
Hezbollah’s fighters serve as a kind of national guard which supplements the Lebanese Armed Forces. Members of the primarily Christian Free Patriotic Movement of President Aoun have often acknowledged this reality. Hezbollah’s role in Lebanon is more than simply supplemental in respect of protecting Lebanon, it is now considered a vital part of Lebanon’s ability to defend itself against foreign aggression and terrorism.
Any Israeli led invasion of southern Lebanon would of course but not only a supreme violation of international law, but it could backfire catastrophically for Tel Aviv.
During a recent speech, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah stated that Israel is reticent to get into protracted fights, preferring to opt for either airstrikes or rapid blitzkrieg style battles. The minute Israel gets bogged down in a battle, they have effectively lost, according to the Hezbollah leader. This is indeed what happened in 2006 when Israel last invaded Lebanon and Hezbollah forced the invaders to retreat.
11 years later, Hezbollah is far more powerful militarily and more popular politically than in 2017. If Israel does invade, it may be making the gravest mistake of its military history, while also showing the world that Israel is willing to be a foot soldier in a dispute that is Saudi in origin.
Top photo | Lebanese soldiers rest on top of an armored personnel carrier on the outskirts of Ras Baalbek, Lebanon, Monday, Aug. 28, 2017. (AP/Hassan Ammar)