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Hezbollah and the Reluctance for a Wider War: Cui Bono?

Brussels (4/11 – 25)

It’s an old story, a broken record: war crimes in the Middle East, encouraged and stoked by outsiders with their own agenda. Israel, offended and humiliated by the 7 October attacks for which they had repeatedly been warned by Egypt.

Hamas, encouraged and bankrolled by Israel initially, in its effort to undercut the appeal of Al-Fatah, has turned into Frankenstein’s Monster, breaching a border that was trumpeted as the most invincible in the world, with 24/7 surveillance, sensors to detect tunnels, full camera coverage and on and on – yet several thousand Hamas warriors parachuted in unimpeded, like autumn leaves, cut through the fence and barreled along, killing and kidnapping as they went. Where was the much-vaunted Israeli military, multi-billion-dollar funded by Washington, kitted out with the latest armaments and electronic surveillance?

Every Israeli politician should be held to account for the failure to defend the border, and the crimes of Hamas were immediately followed by indiscriminate bombing of Gaza by the Israeli military, which finally woke up and got moving. How many noncombatants dead? Woman, children, the elderly? Let’s say 9,000. The world looks on, displeased.

A billion Muslims worldwide see this as yet another attack by an infidel west on Islam. The 7 October attack was notable in its cruelty to kibbutz-dwellers, party-goers – absolute innocents going about their lives on the Israeli side of the border. Babies were murdered, women beheaded. What was the objective of this, as Hamas (just like all combatants in all contemporary conflicts) is playing to an audience of Telegram, TikTok and other internet witnesses. The surprising aspect is that there have been massive demonstrations throughout the western world in support of Hamas; while they do not call for the destruction of Israel they are demanding human rights for the Palestinians. The killings of Israelis are intentionally ignored.

Was Netanyahu not suckered in to this mess? Is the massive retaliation currently thundering down on Gaza not precisely what Hamas expected from its enemy, so average Palestinians could be seen by the world as victims once again?

Other Arab nations are mostly keeping their distance, and avoiding any inflammatory moves beyond grave, angry pronouncements. The Islamic Republic of Iran, always ready to stir up trouble in the Arab East, is talking tough but moving cautiously, even as they sponsor terror groups in Syria Yemen and Iraq.

There was a recent interview, carried on YouTube, with Hezbollah honcho Hassan Nasrullah, notably silent about the war in Gaza until now. He claims that the recent attacks were “100% Palestinian” thereby clearing Hezbollah of any responsibility. 90 minutes of threats, harangue and fundamentalist rhetoric was his contribution to the dialogue. Evidence to the contrary exists, Hezbollah like the Iran were informed by HAMAS. The political aims are also very clear. Undermine the wider peace talks between Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Muslim world. A first in 50 years for the region.

What is Hezbollah, one of many radical Islamic groups that have sprung up in the past 30 ~ 40 years? Presumptuously calling itself the “Party of God”, its role in Lebanon is that of a political party/armed militia/Iranian proxy. Its militia consists of more than an estimated 100,000 fighters, well-trained, battle-hardened and ready to fight and die. Hezbollah is said to be unlike Hamas or the Islamic Jihad – different in that it is an integrated part of Lebanese society.  

In recent weeks, Hezbollah has struck 19 locations along the Israeli border with rocket fire, and carried out skirmishes against the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). The Hamas surprise attack impressed Muslims worldwide, who see it as a natural revenge move on behalf of the suffering Palestinians.

“What’s happening in Gaza today is not like any previous war. It’s not just another battle – it’s a historic and decisive one. What unfolds after it will differ significantly from what there was before,” thundered Nasrullah. The assembled masses drank it up. Shops were closed and tens of thousands gathered for a full-throated hatefest.

Still, Nasrullah has sufficient problems facing him in a sick, broke and weak Lebanon, and the idea of going to war now looks definitely unappealing. Beards waggle and fanatics whoop – but what the hirsute mullah actually indicated was “And now, more of the same”: limited strikes and exchanges but no full-scale war.

“All options are on the table with Israel. What will happen depends on Israel’s actions in Gaza.” Rather lukewarm support for the Palestinians – noting once again that NO Islamic country in North Africa, the Middle East or Asia has invited the suffering Palestinians to emigrate there. They know trouble when they see it.

“America is the Great Satan, Israel is lying, their soldiers will fail in Gaza and Hamas did a great job on October 7.” Typical Hezbollah yakkity-yak.

The subtext for the greybeard leader in his televised talk was “Cool it. Take no action … yet.” But Hezbollah is in fact a very unpredictable and deeply violent force.

Israel, of course has the “Samson Option”, embodied in its 200+ nuclear weapons nestled safely away in a Negev Desert “research facility”. One of those babies would blow Teheran off the map. Or Damascus, or Mecca. It would also take out a whole army, leaving behind a glowing radioactive crater dangerous for a thousand years afterwards.

While the Islamic masses may be frothing at the mouth to go to war, their leaders do not look forward to national suicide.



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