A painful lesson

This Google Earth grab shows the Lebanese villages of Nabi Sheet and Janta.

The Israeli airstrike on the Lebanese-Syrian border this week has highlighted Hezbollah’s inability to generate a coherent policy on the war in Syria aside from actions that provide excuses for acts of violence.

If certain understandings and international resolutions have kept the Golan Heights front line quiet for decades and south Lebanon quiet for years, this doesn’t mean the party can engage in whatever it wants elsewhere and not expect repercussions.

Acts of terror should be condemned, but Hezbollah’s high-profile involvement in the Syrian war has merely given terrorists an excuse to strike at will against civilian and military targets in Lebanon.

Israel, meanwhile, has been perfectly happy to see Syria descend into chaos, but it has no intention of letting Hezbollah receive more sophisticated weapons from the war-ravaged nation.

In some ways, Hezbollah has gone from being a largely underground resistance movement to a prominent nonstate actor with its own weapons arsenal and training bases out in the open in the sensitive Lebanon-Syria border region.

It should be expected that Israel will exploit every opportunity to head off developments that could serve Hezbollah by air, while terrorists on the ground will be just as relentless in punishing the party.

Hezbollah must learn the lessons from what has transpired and reconsider its policy of all-out support for the embattled regime in Damascus and the subsequent overreaching this has inspired. Hezbollah’s actions have invited only more violence, and both it and Lebanon stand poised to pay the price.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 27, 2014, on page 7.




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