Unfortunately, they're right.3:37 PM, May 6, 2015 • By TONY BADRAN
Last week, the Israeli Air Force struck a cache of long-range missiles belonging to Hezbollah and put the Shia militia on notice. As air force chief Major-General Amir Eshel explained, "Our ability today to attack targets on a large scale and with high precision is about 15 times greater than what we did in the (2006) war" with Hezbollah.
Nonetheless, Hezbollah and its patrons in Iran are confident. Israel, from their perspective, is just an American asset, and they’ve got the Obama administration in hand. The White House is marketing the proposed nuclear deal with Iran as a “win-win” agreement, but that’s not how Iran’s proxy in Lebanon sees it. In the longstanding standoff between America and Iran, there has to be a winner and a loser. Iran won and the United States lost.
Over the last few weeks, Hezbollah media has been celebrating what they understand as a strategic victory. In an editorial, entitled “A New World: The West Capitulates," Ibrahim al-Amin, editor of the pro-Hezbollah newspaper Al-Akhbar, wrote that the preliminary agreement reached in Lausanne was hardly a “win-win” settlement. Rather, as has been the case throughout history, there is “a victor and vanquished.” The end result of the decades-long conflict between Iran and the West, Amin added, was clear: the West has capitulated.
Amin drew on Obama’s April 2nd Rose Garden address, and noted that the president presented two choices: either this deal or war. Clearly, Amin added, war was not a realistic choice for Obama. So, in truth, he had no choice but to yield. For Hezbollah and its Iranian patrons, Obama’s talking point about the lack of alternatives to this deal revealed a fundamental truth. They understood -- quite accurately -- that the White House had no chance of succeeding in the negotiations if it was not willing to strike Iran, if it had to. Either force was on the table or it wasn’t. The Iranians and Hezbollah had concluded that, for Obama, this was never an actual choice.
In fact, it appeared that the White House viewed the possibility of a strike on Iran as far more unattractive than the prospect of a nuclear Iran. As such, Amin argued, there’s but one conclusion: If Washington was advertising that it cannot force Iran to abandon its nuclear ambitions, then Obama was merely sugar-coating his surrender to Iran’s will.
In this sense, Hezbollah agreed with Obama that this was a historic moment. On the one hand, Hezbollah understood the implication of the Lausanne framework for Iran’s nuclear capabilities. As another article in Al-Akhbar put it, the deal was “a Western recognition of the Islamic Republic as a nuclear state.” But Hezbollah also realized that by conceding this status, the White House was enhancing Iran’s stature in the regional balance of power. Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Naim Qassem explained that while Iran did score “a great victory” by getting “the great powers to acquiesce to its program,” this acquiescence also reflected a “recognition of [Iran’s] stature and role in the region and the world.” It was a victory, added Qassem, for the “resistance project led by Iran.”
In an interview with a pro-Assad network a few days after Obama’s address, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah made the same point. “As Obama said, diplomacy is the only way…Obama is now forced to say it, and the reason is Iran’s strength.” Nasrallah continued: “Both enemies and friends have acknowledged that this deal will enhance Iran’s power, presence and influence in the region.” While President Obama insists that his agreement with Iran will limit its ability to “bully” its neighbors — if not lead to regime “moderation” — Hezbollah believes otherwise.
The White House argues, as Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew said last week, that “Iran will be under enormous pressure to use previously blocked resources to improve its domestic economy.” Hassan Nasrallah sketched a different scenario. “If Iran gets back this money, what will it do with it?” Nasrallah asked rhetorically. “A rich and strong Iran,” he answered, “will be able to stand by its allies and friends, and the peoples of the region, especially the resistance in Palestine, more than in any time in the past.”
A better way forward in the Middle East.Apr 20, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 30 • By MAX BOOT and MICHAEL DORAN
The ouster of ISIS fighters from Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown, has been widely celebrated. Although this victory was brought about in no small part by American airpower, it was a triumph for Iran more than for the United States. The vast majority of fighters on the front lines belonged to Shiite militias, many of them trained, equipped, and advised by the Iranians. Their de facto commander is Gen. Qassem Suleimani, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’s Quds Force, which is charged with exporting the Iranian revolution.
Is Iran’s Lebanese client losing its grip? Feb 2, 2015, Vol. 20, No. 20 • By LEE SMITH
Last week Hezbollah buried one of its princes, Jihad Mughniyeh, the 22-year-old son of the late Imad Mughniyeh, a legendary Hezbollah commander implicated in such infamous operations as the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut. The assassination
12:10 PM, Oct 10, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
Experts continue to debate whether the explosion at an Iranian military base at Parchin earlier in the week was an act of sabotage.
The tunnels of Hamas and Hezbollah.Aug 4, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 44 • By LEE SMITH
During the first two weeks of the Gaza conflict, Hamas landed at least two significant punches. In firing missiles at Ben Gurion Airport, Hamas convinced the Federal Aviation Authority and European air carriers to temporarily suspend flights to Israel. The fact that relatively primitive rockets falling far short of their targets are nonetheless capable of at least briefly severing an advanced Western democracy with a leading tech economy from the rest of the world is a psychological blow.
Jun 2, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 36 • By LEE SMITH
Last month the president of the Syrian Opposition Coalition went to the White House. Ahmad Jarba and the Syrian rebels want American weapons, in particular the shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles that might neutralize Bashar al-Assad’s air force and stop it from dropping barrel bombs loaded with chlorine gas canisters. What Jarba got instead was a handshake and platitudes.
Talking to Matthew Levitt about his new book 'Hezbollah: The Global Footprint of Lebanon’s Party of God.'1:19 PM, Feb 13, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
Six years ago Hezbollah commander Imad Mughniyeh was assassinated when the headrest in his car was detonated in Damascus. While Israeli intelligence neither denies nor confirms its involvement, the Mossad is generally believed to have been responsible for his death. And yet there is no shortage of Western as well as Arab intelligence services that wanted Mughniyeh dead—including the CIA, whose station chief William Buckley Hezbollah abducted, tortured and killed in 1985. Moreover, Mughniyeh was responsible for the April 1983 bombing of the American embassy in Beirut that killed 17 Americans, and the Marines barracks bombing in October of that year that killed 244 American marines, sailors, soldiers and airmen. As founder and director of Hezbollah’s terrorism apparatus, Mughniyeh left a long wake of blood across the world. And even six years after his death, Mughniyeh’s legacy of terror lives on, as Hezbollah has recently plotted operations on several continents, including Europe, Asia and Africa.
Why Hezbollah is fighting alongside Bashar al-Assad—and almost didn’t.3:58 PM, Feb 12, 2014 • By MATTHEW LEVITT
Remember a few years ago when Iranian officials had to intervene to prevent Hezbollah gunmen from turning on their Syrian patrons? Few people do. Today, the "axis of resistance" is as strong as ever, with Iran and Hezbollah fully committed to fighting for the survival of Bashar al-Assad’s regime, despite battlefield losses and the political costs of siding with a brutal dictator who gasses and bombs his own people.
An exclusive interview with Lebanon’s former prime minister on the eve of the trial against the four Hezbollah members who murdered his father.12:20 PM, Jan 17, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
Bombing in Hezbollah stronghold.2:18 PM, Jan 2, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
A car bomb detonated today in the southern suburbs of Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold. So far, four are reported dead and over 50 have been injured. With rumors spreading that the bombing may have been the work of the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a Sunni jihadist group with ties to al Qaeda, it seems that this was the latest in a series of moves indicating that the regional conflict with Syria as its red-hot center is growing ever wider, now encompassing all the Levant, from Baghdad to Beirut. In the Lebanese capital alone, within a one-week span a former Sunni minister was assassinated, Saudi Arabia bought a $3 billion share of a national army heavily infiltrated by Hezbollah, and then today the Party of God was targeted on its home turf.
But interim deal with Iran puts the White House and its traditional Middle East allies in opposing camps.2:52 PM, Nov 25, 2013 • By LEE SMITH
In the wake of the interim deal that the White House signed with Iran Saturday, Secretary of State John Kerry said on the Sunday talk shows that nothing has changed, not with the American position in the Middle East, or with the U.S. alliance system in the region. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is screaming his head off, but Israel has nothing to worry about says Kerry.
4:04 PM, Nov 15, 2013 • By KEN JENSEN
The cartoon above is from the Great Game era in Central Asia, when the British and Russians were in a contest for places like Afghanistan and Iran. It's strongly (perhaps perversely) suggestive given current events.