Hezbollah’s two tracks

File - Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah speaks during a ceremony in Beirut's southern suburbs, Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

The leader of Hezbollah used a televised address Sunday to relay two very different messages.

On domestic matters, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said his party had made concessions to facilitate the formation of a new government, calling for “partnership” to move the country forward. But Nasrallah struck a very different tone in defending Hezbollah’s involvement in the war in Syria, which is currently focused on the town of Yabroud. Here, Hezbollah’s stance is unilateral, with no room for debate, much less partnership.

Hezbollah’s justifications for fighting in Syria have evolved from protecting shrines near the capital to playing the leading role in “decisive” battles, and the overarching goal of defeating “takfiris.”

Hezbollah’s heavy weaponry and large troop presence, alongside Syrian army troops and Iraqi militiamen, can be expected to achieve victory in Yabroud, just as this overwhelming force won last year’s “decisive” battle in Qusair. Then, it will be only a matter of time before Hezbollah mobilizes for yet another momentous battle, and another one, with no foreseeable end.

With the mobilization for Yabroud, one can only expect more political turbulence in Lebanon. Hezbollah is part of a government in which most members support the Baabda Declaration, namely the exact opposite of the party’s involvement in Syria. The longer that Hezbollah maintains its open-ended, ill-defined commitment to war abroad, the longer that Lebanon’s politics will suffer from tension and debilitating stalemate.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 18, 2014, on page 7.




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