Iran

Rift Between Hezbollah and Assad Continues to Grow

Arab media sources are reporting on tensions between Hezbollah and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the two key allies of Iran in the Middle East.

Sources close to Hezbollah admitted that the organization is suffering from “difficult days” in its war in Syria against local opposition groups attempting to overthrow Assad. According to the Erem-News website (Arabic link), Hezbollah wants to take over the Al-Qalamoun district of the Rif Dimashq governorate in Syria. However, a rift formed when the Assad regime refused to help Hezbollah in this effort, preferring to focus on other areas. Without regime support, Hezbollah suffered heavy losses in Al-Qalamoun, and many of its fighters have been killed there in recent weeks. This is the apparent reason behind the recent tensions between the two sides.

In addition, Iran has decided to reduce its aid to Hezbollah by 25%, a move that forced the Shiite terrorist organization (Arabic link) to withdraw from some areas of fighting in Syria due to funding problems.

The Saudi newspaper al-Youm reported (Arabic link) recently that following Hezbollah losses in the Syrian arena and near the Lebanese-Syrian border, there are tensions and divisions even inside the organization. Some of the organization’s combatants threatened to neither fight for the organization nor return to their bases.

These tensions are probably the reason why Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah made a rare excursion outside his underground bunker last month and travelled to eastern Lebanon. Arab media outlets suggested the goal of the visit was to raise fighters’ morale.

An analysis written for Lebanon’s NOW media outlet yesterday argued that Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria has “strained” the terrorist group’s resources and is potentially alienating it from its popular support base, the Shiite population of Lebanon. With its involvement in Syria dictated by its sponsor Iran, initially Hezbollah performed well, often even better than Assad’s forces. However, there was no quick victory to the war, and the continued fighting is now depleting Hezbollah’s forces and resources.

[Photo: Travel Aficionado / Flickr]