Are Hezbollah and Israel preparing for the next war? Everything seems to indicate that they are, despite the fact that all logic dictates that they should not.
A number of intelligence sources who make it their business to monitor Hezbollah are saying that the Lebanese Shi'ite organization is preparing for its next war with Israel.
The sources maintain that in recent weeks there has been disturbing news coming out from south Lebanon indicating that the risk of a renewed showdown between Hezbollah and the Israeli army is growing.
According to a Wall Street Journal report last month, Hezbollah has successfully smuggled and disbursed more than 100,000 rockets, advanced anti-aircraft, anti-ship, and surface to surface missiles into Lebanon.
The same report claims that the Lebanese militia smuggled and dispersed 100,000 rockets and missiles throughout military installations in South Lebanon.
Still according to the same report, Hezbollah officials have taken to bragging that they can saturation bomb Israeli population centers. And Iranian officials boasted that the group can strike anywhere in Israel with pinpoint accuracy.
Israel’s offshore oil platforms are thought to be particularly vulnerable. The Lebanese March 14 movement has criticized Hezbollah claiming they are trying to open a new front with Israel in the Mediterranean Sea.
Israel meanwhile has threatened that the next campaign will be “broad” in response to Hezbollah’s preparations.
Indeed one may wonder why Hezbollah already, caught up in the Syrian civil war would be itching to ignite yet another front, this one much closer to home in South Lebanon where the majority of towns and villages are Shi’ite, therefore making it easier for Israel to pressure the Lebanese militant group.
Also, targeting Israel's offshore oil platforms will set a precedent in this dangerous escalation of violence in the Middle East, and place in jeopardy Lebanon’s future oil ventures in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Opening a new front in south Lebanon would certainly not be advantageous to Hezbollah nor to Lebanon, however it would benefit Syria, if things started to go bad for President Bashar Assad in Damascus. An escalation of violence along the Lebanese-Israeli border will automatically drag Israel into Syria’s civil war, and in so doing would force Washington to intervene in the conflict.
Under such a scenario South Lebanon would become inundated by the plethora of Islamists jihadi groups currently fighting in Syria, all chomping at the bits, eager to have a go at Israel now that they have a direct border with the Jewish state. The big difference in Israel’s border with Lebanon, as opposed to those with Syria, where Israeli and Syrian forces on the Golan Heights are separated by several miles of no man’s land, and even Gaza is a small distance from Israeli settlements, in northern Israel the Jewish settlements, hamlet, cities are just a few vulnerable yards from Lebanese soil and from Hezbollah fighters, and in the near future quite possibly close to groups such as al-Qaida, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and the Chechen and other Muslim Europeans and their allies.
In the end, President Bashar Assad would have kept his promise to turn the region into a hell and drag everyone down with him. It’s the Samson syndrome.
By. Claude Salhani
Claude Salhani is a journalist and political analyst. He is Senior editor with Trend News Agency in Baku, Azerbaijan. He specializes in the Greater Middle East. You can follow him on Twitter at @claudesalhani.