Beirut, Lebanon – It is no secret that Hezbollah has been propping up the Syrian forces attempting to quell the rebellion against President Assad. However, when Hezbollah confirmed that their forces are actively battling Islamic State militants in Iraq, it surprised even the most astute experts on Middle Eastern affairs.
In a stunning address, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah admitted his forces were in Iraq. He also condemned Middle Eastern governments for waiting for the United States to do the fighting to save Islam from the group he claims does not represent the religion.
“He who relies on the Americans relies on an illusion.”
What is Hezbollah?
Hezbollah is vehemently Anti-American and Anti-Israeli. They were the archetypal Middle Eastern bad guys before it was cool. Before ISIS, before the Taliban, before Al-Qaeda, even before the first Gulf War, Hezbollah was fodder for Hollywood villain back stories. If you watch an action movie made before 9/11, the pedigree of the Middle Eastern villain always has a link to Hezbollah. Typically, it was something about “the 1983 Beirut bombing.” That was a real event, and it was America’s first real example of mass casualties from a Middle Eastern terrorist group.
On October 23, 1983 a truck packed with around 2000 lbs. of explosives detonated outside of the US Marine Corp barracks in Beirut. 241 Americans were killed. It was the deadliest single day for the Marines since the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. Needless to say, Hezbollah and the US do not find themselves on the same side of a conflict very often.
Why is Hezbollah’s fight against ISIS important?
First it needs to be understood that Hezbollah is not your typical terrorist organization. In 2013, it was estimated to have over 50,000 soldiers. Since then, they have begun recruiting non-Shia troops and their numbers have grown. The organization is backed and heavily influenced by Iran. Hezbollah is well respected in radical circles and their condemnation of the Islamic State will carry weight throughout the Islamic world. In one public statement, Hezbollah has damaged the Islamic State’s recruitment capabilities more than any effort the United States could muster.
Hezbollah has, in fact, taken a position as world leader. The organization is attempting to clean up the mess that the United States created when it armed and funded the Islamic State militants in a halfbaked attempt to destabilize Syria in order to oust Assad. The fact that a terrorist organization has more credibility and capability than the United States is a clear indication of how the foreign policy of the United States has failed in every possible way.
It would be easy to place the blame squarely on the shoulders of President Obama. After all, he was instrumental in turning this into another never-ending and ever-widening conflict. It isn’t fair to blame the President alone. We must remember how much the Republican party played a large part in backing the war for the benefit of their defense contractor donors.