In order to understand the war against Syria it is essential to understand Syria’s role in the resistance front of the Arab Nation against Israel. I shall do so in this article, explaining in particular the connection between Syria and the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah, and why the two are so closely bound to each other.
Hezbollah is a Lebanese Islamic movement of resistance against any aggression on Lebanese territory. It has stood in the way of Israeli plans to establish a “Promised Land” of Israel (“Greater Israel”) stretching all the way from the Nile to the Euphrates, as desired by the early Zionist leaders and by current Zionist ideologues. It is also staunchly opposed to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Hezbollah has also been a consistent supporter of the Palestinians. Hezbollah has never behaved in the disgraceful way of many Arab governments, whose policy towards Israel is by contrast one of acquiescence and surrender.
In 2000 Hezbollah successfully liberated the south of Lebanon from Israeli occupation. In 2006, in a war that lasted 33 days, Hezbollah defeated the might of the Israeli military, repelling Israel’s attack on Lebanon.
Over the course of those 33 days Israel brought all its huge military power to bear, expecting a quick and easy victory in just 2 to 3 days. Instead Hezbollah stood its ground, defeating the Israeli attack on their country.
Israel’s defeat by Hezbollah in 2006 was for the Israelis a massive psychological blow, smashing the myth of Israel’s invincibility, and breaking the aura of fear that up till then had surrounded Israel.
Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s Secretary general, is fond of this saying:
“Beirut was destroyed by Sharon and rebuilt by Hafez Al- Assad. To Syria we say: Long life Syria Al- Assad.”
President Hafez Al Assad , the previous leader of Syria, helped to create Hezbollah and was one of its earliest backers. Syria, Hezbollah and Iran form together what Arabs call the Axis of Resistance. This Axis is committed to resisting Israel and to defending the interests of the Arabs as against Israel and the US.
The Axis of Resistance however has enemies in the Arab World. Conservative, US-aligned Arab states oppose it.
Take the case of Egypt. People in Egypt supported Hezbollah even during the period when Egypt was most closely aligned with the US, during the time when former President Hosni Mubarak was at the helm of the country. However the Egyptian intelligence apparatus actually arrested Egyptians who supported Hezbollah during the 2006 war with Israel. Egypt also closed Rafah border crossing with the Gaza strip when Gaza was being attacked by Israel.
The Arab street in Egypt and elsewhere nonetheless supports Hezbollah. Most Arabs consider Israel to be the enemy. Hezbollah as a key part of the Axis of Resistance commands their support.
This puts the rulers of most of the Arab states in a very embarrassing position. Most of them want to recognise Israel and achieve a normalisation of relations with Israel. However that is not what their people want. They see that as a sellout of the Arab interests and of Arab people and Arab land to Israel. The result is that in most of the Arab world the people and the rulers are set against each other.
After the 2006 war Hezbollah’s popularity with the Arabs greatly increased. This made the position of the Arab rulers even more difficult. Their response, led by the reactionary autocratic monarchies of the Gulf Cooperation Council, was to get the Arab League to declare Hezbollah a terrorist group.
The sad truth is that the dictator monarchies of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain essentially control the Arab League because of their money and power. The result is that they are able to use the Arab League to promote their own agenda in the Middle East – one which is aligned not with broader Arab interests or the wishes of most Arabs, but with those of the US and Israel.
The result is that the Arab League all but welcomed the war in Iraq, backs the Saudi aggression against Yemen and in 2013 even welcomed the US decision to bomb Syria, just as it had previously welcomed the US decision to bomb Libya.
This sets out the background to the war that is being waged against Syria. Essentially it is part of a plan by the US and Israel and their reactionary Arab allies in the Gulf Cooperation Council to break the Axis of Resistance. Ultimately the intention is to destroy Hezbollah, the key resistance movement resisting Israel, by depriving it of Syria’s support.
What this means is that the wars in Lebanon and Syria cannot be separated from each other. The method used is to shred the region by spreading religious violence. Hezbollah is Shia. Syria’s President is Alawite. So the so-called “Islamic State” has been created, which is Sunni.
The “Islamic State” has been designed to attract Takfiri fighters from all over the world to join the war against Syria. That way the war to destroy Syria and break the Axis of Resistance is fought with no shortage of fanatical recruits. The war is sponsored and funded by Saudi Arabia, the true factory of Wahhabism, as well as by countries like Qatar and Turkey.
The plan is to topple President Bashar al-Assad, who has followed his father’s Hafez Al-Assad’s policy of supporting Hezbollah and the Axis of Resistance, refusing to normalise relations with Israel or recognise Israel’s occupation of Arab and Palestinian land. The plan is to overthrow and replace Assad with a representative of the “moderate rebels” who will be more willing to work with Israel and who will not view Israel as the enemy, since he will be instead obsessed with the ideology of radical Islamism. In that way two objectives are achieved: the destruction of Hezbollah and the destruction of the Syrian Arab Army, the two major Arab military forces resisting Israel.
As for the Arabs, they need to understand the nature of the game that is being played with them. Was Gaddafi overthrown in Libya because he was a Shia or an Alawite? Hardly! Or was he overthrown because he was just a piece in this game of dominoes?
As for democracy, can we trust any “democracy” brought to us by American tanks? Recent history is not so far in the past that we cannot find in it a guide to the present. What about Iraq? Did it become a “democracy” after the US invaded it? Did they not execute Saddam Hussein, who was a Sunni leader, not an Alawite or a Shia?
And what alternative do they offer in place of these fallen leaders? Chaos. The so-called “Islamic State”. Destruction as a way of life. Suicide bombings.
It is all just a step towards what Condoleezza Rice once called “the new Middle East”: a fragile region, easy to control, whose resources are easy to pillage.
After resistance in Syria is eliminated, what the the US and Israel want is to eliminate the Syrian Army: the main defender of the Arabs from attack by Israel. The US wants to shred Syria’s army, just as it once shredded Iraq’s army, and for the same reason. It doesn’t want Arab states to have strong armies. Moreover in order to achieve these destructive goals the US is prepared to do whatever it takes: play on sectarian differences or set ethnic groups like the Kurds off against each other.
Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia, and Hezbollah are the only powers who are genuinely fighting terrorism in the Middle East. In the Middle East “terrorism” is something created and used by the US to achieve its geopolitical objectives. Breaking the Axis of Resistance is the overriding priority. That is why Syria is at war.
Hezbollah and the Syrian Arab Army are not aggressors. They have never wanted to attack anyone. They just defend their homeland and defend their people from aggression.
This is a war for existence and it is a war by deception. But it is also a single war. It is not only a war against Syria or Lebanon, because there are other targets slated for destruction as well as them. No one can say Hezbollah is fighting just for Syria. Nor can anyone say Syria is defending Lebanon or Hezbollah. They are fighting together against a plan of imperialism that was organised even before 2006. Their fight – in victory or defeat – is inextricably linked.