Paradigm shift | Israel prepares to go to war with Hezbollah

IF WAR breaks out again soon between Israel and Hezbollah, I would not be surprised. Iran has become the winner of the current Greater Middle East project, although the strategy was intended to redraw the map in favor of the West and Israel. Because Iran is entrenching itself in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, the Gulf countries, and Lebanon, Israel will not sit by idly while Iran roots itself into these neighboring nations. Basically, Israel is preparing for a proxy war with Tehran on its northern border of neighboring Lebanon, an area backed by Hezbollah.

Today Hezbollah has become stronger and has the military might to destroy the Israeli army. This scenario is not too dissimilar from what is happening today in Syria. Turkey saw as an opportunity to fill the vacuum and to flex its muscles on the world stage, justifying its ongoing war against the Kurds by giving the excuse that it is clearing terror from its border. Now Israel is going to use Turkey’s rationale to purge Hezbollah from its border. Turkey, Russia, and Iran view America’s retreat from the Middle East as an opening to redesign the Middle East the way they want. Because of America‘s failed leadership under the Obama and now the Trump administrations, few world leaders take America seriously anymore, so that Washington has lost its influence there.

Israel thought that the war in Syria would be won by the Western powers, so that Iran would not easily send support to Hezbollah via Syria, but the war in Syria favored Iran. Now Hezbollah truly believes that it has the enough power to overcome Israel. This bravado might be because Shiite groups fought in Syria alongside the Assad regime, Iran, and Russia. As a key ally fighting with the Assad regime, Hezbollah has now turned the entrenched conflict in Assad’s favor.

Syria is a veritable caldron. Turkish President Erdogan is vowing to drive out the Syrian Kurds from their ancestral homeland and threatening to go into the U.S. backed Kurdish region east of the Euphrates, starting with the Kurdish held town of Manbij. The West used the Syrian Kurdish forces who fought the US’ dirty war against ISIS. The Kurdish fighters never asked anyone to shed blood for them, nor did they determine to attack anyone, but just wanted to live with dignity and peace in their homeland. Further, Turkey has been trying to create a stronghold in the Kurdish region of Afrin in northwestern Syria to prevent the Kurds from redrawing the northern part of the country by linking the Kurdish region of Rojava with the Mediterranean Sea. Turkey generally resolves to occupy places they have overtaken, and to that end, they will place Turkmen supported by the Turkish military in the area.

The Kurds have proved to be a more reliable proxy than Turkey, but their allegiance to the US has come at a cost. Simultaneously, Israel, Turkey, Russia and Iran are embroiling themselves in Syria for their own interests. Israel would like to take advantage of Turkey‘s operation in Syria that is using Iranian backed militia who are establishing a military presence on Israel’s border. Iran is strategically planning to stabilize itself in Syria, presumably to threaten Israel. Yet, distractions abound. Assad is preoccupied with recovery from the war, Iran is preoccupied with eliminating internal protests, and Turkey‘s preoccupation is to eliminate the Kurds from its border in order to improve its position.

The political caldron in Syria includes Israel. Israel wants to contain Hezbollah on its border because it believes Hezbollah is a terror group, thus a formidable threat, and one causing a growing risk of conflict. Israel’s perhaps warranted insecurity is compounded by Turkey’s operation in Syria to clear its border of its long- term enemy, the Kurds. Moreover, Israel and Saudi Arabia’s collaboration against Iran, even though it has received the US’s blessing, is tenuous and possibly erratic. The Saudi involvement in the Lebanese Prime Minister’s resignation may have left Lebanon open to Hezbollah domination.

There is no doubt that Israel will go to war with Hezbollah, but the question is how will Russia and the US respond to such a conflict? Because Russia is a comrade in arms with Iran and Hezbollah in Syria, it controls everything west of the Euphrates River; it also controls the airspace and has given Turkey’s Erdogan the green light to attack Afrin from the air. Russia plays a double-faced card, letting the Kurds open an office in Moscow and at the same time letting the Turks attack them. Russia is telling the Kurds that they did not betray them but that the Americans did, because Americans are the ones who gave them support but not autonomy. Western countries, evidently, have no obligation to remember who their friends have been or to protect and defend them from moral atrocities such as those perpetrated in Syria.

 The question is will the United States once again assume the mantle of the moral leader of the world, what President Reagan once borrowed from American’s founding motto, “The shining city on the hill” that all countries look to as a model. That hill is not shining anymore, because of the arrogance of the American leadership that only consumes the light for themselves, focusing on themselves rather than on what is going on around the world,

The world needs a noble leader to fight the great evils that are confronting humanity today. Undoubtedly a conflict with Lebanon’s Hezbollah is becoming increasingly likely, and such a war would be more dangerous and destructive than the last war in 2006.  In the case of the Kurds, America abandoned them after they used them for their national interest. One by one the Middle Eastern countries are hoping that Putin of Russia can be relied upon.

In January 2018, Turkey instigated an invasion of Syria, dubbed the “Olive Branch.” The operation comes as no surprise. President Tayyip Erdogan already clearly does not want the Kurds in Syria to have a kind of autonomous region like the one in Northern Iraq, but the question is what will happen after Turkey occupies towns inside Syria? Who will be in charge? Turkish nationalism is at a fever pitch, so public opinion largely supports the operation. For President Erdogan this is an electoral bonanza. As long as the operation is portrayed as the defense of the motherland, the motivation for the army will hold up. But Erdogan himself knows that the Kurdish issue is not going to be solved by the military. It will be solved in a democratic process. Turkey has been using a military solution to the Kurdish issue for more than four decades but has not solved it yet. Now Ankara has opened one more front. What if Syrian Kurds decide to ally themselves with the Assad regime to confront the Turks, fearful that an Arab jihadist, such as a Jihadist movement, might be revived in the region?

The famous song in Shakespeare’s drama prophesies Macbeth’s future, “Double, double toil and trouble; /Fire burn and caldron bubble.” As in the literary tragedy, the boiling caldron may signify trouble in the Middle East. Since Iran began supporting the Assad regime in 2011 and recently began building base in Damascus, since Russia joined the Syrian conflict in 2015 becoming a geostrategic player in the war, and since Turkey started conducting military operations in Syria ostensibly to safeguard its borders against the Kurds, Israel finds itself in a kettle of bubbling affairs. The threat of a swaggering Hezbollah only increases the trouble.

Dr. Aland Mizell is President of the MCI and a regular contributor to Mindanao Times. You may email the author

Posted in Opinion