Stories | 24 Dec 2014

With the recent fall of Sanaa to the Houthis, backed by Iran; several events resonate in memory, thus helping unfurl the complete canvas: Hezbollah's forced entry into Beirut in 2008; Baghdad's fall into the full Iranian sphere of influence since 2011 after the departure of US troops, and; the announcement of the formation of the Syrian Hezbollah (2014)the most important and the most dangerous development!

Reading this last development (Hezbollah in Syria) in the light of what is happening today in Sanaa, will give us an early picture of where Syrian events might be heading later. This becomes particularly salient, with the current stagnation of the Syrian conflict into a "no victor, no vanquished" scenario. All internal parties to the conflict have become weakened vis-à-vis their respective regional sponsors, thus leading these parties to surrender their internal spaces and social forces to external forces, to lay the foundation of their projects; and rendering the Syrian interior subservient to these external parties' strategies.

The Iranian strategy is based on encircling the Arab region through the use of internal 'tools' possessing certain social/civil forces. This is either done under the guise Shiite solidarity, which comprises politico-religious Shia-tization; or under the guise of resistance. As soon Iran does secure a foothold, the first step is to arm and train these groups to become a sort of parallel "armies." This can be clearly noted in the three previous cases—from Beirut, To Baghdad, To Sanaa, to Damascuswherein the growth sectarian armies/militias occurred in parallel with the weakening of national armies. Iranian efforts today are ongoing within this context, in parallel with attempts to prevent the return of those armies to assuming an effective national role. Thus, militias become stronger than the national armies, overtaking capitals and countries to impose Iran's strategy in the region. Iranian writer Mohammed Sadiq al-Husseini recently minced no words in stating that "al-Huthi is the master of Yemen today, as Hassan Nasrallah before him was the master of Lebanon." So, who is the master of Syria today?

With the almost complete militarization of the Syrian revolution, as well as the Syrian army's inability to reach a resolute conclusion; the regime resorted to an increased militarization of society. Thus what has become known today as the National Defense Army [NDA]created according to Iranian advice and supervision, according to Major General "Hossein Hamadani"came into being, thereby announcing the birth of the "Syrian Hezbollah."

The aforementioned cannot be understood without paying attention to the Syrian dictator's Presidential Decree establishing a "Shiite Sharia" school to teach the Jaafari doctrine in Ras al-Ain near the coastal city of Jableh. And once we know that Shiites in Jableh are almost non-existent, we can see how that decision aims further. Such approach aims to fully target Alawi social groups, thereby creating host societies for Iranian policy, now and in the future. Through Iranian support with money and social services, the aim is to turn these social groups into a 'reserve' Syrian Hezbollah, thus helping to cover the increasing decline and weakness of the Syrian army. Tehran is well aware that any future settlement will not leave the army in its current state and is, therefore, furtively attempting to find alternatives capable of imposing themselves on the ground, before any potential settlement. In this vein, Iran is working on a long-term transformation of lifestyles and ideas in local communities so as to more closely aligning them with those of Iranian designs; namely, creating social and intellectual host societies amenable to Iranian expansion, supported by power, money, and arms. The Ashoura rituals witnessed in Damascus and other capitals, are but the living embodiment of this expansion.

Iran is considering, as of this moment, the rehabilitation of the Syrian regime on the one hand, and the creation of justification therefore which will help push farther the spectre of regime change. Iran is, therefore, hard at work to find forces capable of disrupting the transitional phase, and entering into the haggle over endless minutiae, as is the case in Lebanon, Yemen, and Iraq today. The decisive voice is that of arms, when politics failthe very function of the Syrian Hezbollah, as is the function of all Iranian Hezbollahs, from Sanaa, to Beirut, to Baghdad.

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