Hezbollah and Iran reap benefits of US-Israeli relationship crisis

The US's inability to take military action in Syria has disrpted the relationship between the US and Israel, resulting in a crisis from which Iran and Hezbollah have been seizing their opportunities.

Hezbollah and Iran reap benefits of US-Israeli relationship crisis

Ertan Karpazli / World Bulletin

Although Iran took much of the spotlight in 2013 with the election of President Hassan Rouhani and the commencing of the P5+1 peace talks between Iran and western nations including the US, Britain, France, Russia, China, and Germany, little attention has been paid to how these talks have dramatically shifted geo-political alliances in the Middle-East, as well as alliances in the West.

None was more critical of the deal that was reached in the meeting to lift sanctions from Iran, return frozen Iranian assets and allow Iran to continue with its nuclear program under strict observation, than Israel. Pro-Israeli lobbies in the US immediately got to work to push the US congress to vote for more sanctions against Iran and veer negotiations off-track.

This is because Israel is aggrivated by Iranian support for the Lebanese-based Shi'ite Muslim group Hezbollah, which is known for its hostile stance to Israel. Iran is also accused of supporting Palestinian resistence force Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Ironically, while the US spearheaded the West's talks with Hezbollah's sponsor Iran, Hezbollah was also blacklisted as a terrorist organization by the US and the EU.

Hezbollah was the target of an Israeli ariel assault campaign against Lebanon in 2006 and has threatened Israel a number of times since. At the same time they are actively fighting in Syria in support of Bashar al-Assad's regime, which narrowly avoided direct conflict with US forces last year after the US prepared to attack regime targets in Syria following a chemical attack on civilians in the suburbs of Damascus.

Hezbollah also attacked US targets in the past, including a bombing on the US Embassy bombing as well as an attack on the US Marine barracks in Lebanon in 1983. Despite this, reports claim that the US and Hezbollah are now in indirect talks via British mediators, that are "aimed at keeping tabs on the changes in the region and the world, and [to] prepare for the upcoming return of Iran to the international community," according to the Jerusalem Post.

While Hezbollah remains listed as a terrorist organization by the West, the shift of Western media attention in Syria from the atrocities committed by the Syrian regime to the rise of non-allied opposition groups - both Al Qaeda aligned and non-Al Qaeda aligned - which allegedly pose a threat to the West if they come to power, comes as no coincidence.

This shift came after Putin proposed that Assad gives up his chemical arms, thus averting a US attack on Syria. Since this attack was averted, both sides in Syria have been equally tied in battle, both on the ground and in terms of influence in the media. There are now calls for all foreign fighters to withdraw from Syria, which includes foreigners fighting for the opposition as well as calls for Hezbollah to give up its support for Assad.

However, without Hezbollah support, many would argue that Assad is weak and certain to lose, so Iran would be in no hurry to order them to pull out. At the same time, the US is concerned that Al Qaeda aligned groups may threaten their interests in the region if they replace Assad.

It seems that the US had placed all its hopes on a military campaign in Syria, destroying the regime and occupying the country until it could set up the necessary framework which would facilitate the birth of a new allied regime, similar to that of Iraq, while opposition groups that are more in touch with the Syrian people's struggle for freedom are marginalized.

When the US was unable to gain popular support within their own country for this campaign, everything they had been preparing for had come to nothing, with Putin's proposal acting as the nail in the coffin. Since then, the US seems to be confused in which policy to follow regarding Syria, and particularly with Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, this confusion has allowed Iran to gain a lot more than it bargained for, with Hezbollah gaining room to breathe and expand, while US ally Israel remains tense with the prospect of whoever emerges victorious in Syria turning out to be another, much stronger, hostile force. As much as pro-Israeli lobbies in the US may be pushing for action on Syria and Iran, they have lost touch with the US public and are unable to convince Americans to go into another war.

Therefore, by entering talks with Iran and indirect talks with Hezbollah, the US may be attemtping to alleviate some of the losses it made in its inability to occupy Syria or perhaps even buy time to come up with another scheme that will convince Americans to send their sons into another conflict. It could even be an attempt to legitimize Hezbollah, to convince Americans that they're not really so bad in order to hide the shame of the failure of US foreign policy.

This move is unlikely to convince Israel, however, and may give Israel and pro-Israeli lobbies no other choice but to support alternative allies other than Obama in the US, or even seek more reliable assurances on its interests in the region from powerhouses outside of the US, thus decreasing the US influential strong-hold in the Middle-East to nothing. With the EU, Russia and China available, Israel certainly isn't short of options.

The question is, however, which government is willing to potentially fall at odds with its own people and more reliable allies in the Middle-East in preference for unconditional support of Israel, which offers very little strategic benefit in the region's geo-political arena. If anything, an Israeli alliance offers some economic benefits which could be brought by pro-Zionist investors in return for both political and military support, but these benefits are limited to the crumbling capitalist system with which the world is growing increasingly frustrated.

Israel would have to work extremely hard to convince these super-powers that they are a safer bet than regional rivals for anyone looking to expand their influence in the Middle-East, and therefore has to prove its strength and stability to convince alternatives outside the US that they are worth the risk.

On the other hand, it could be argued that since the US was not able to fulfil Israel's wish in Syria, they fear that Israel may already be in search of alternatives who will fulfil their wishes. Therefore, the negotiations between the US and Iran may be an indication that the US is also looking for another ally in the region that will secure its interests, or even a warning to Israel to not cut its ties with the US.

No doubt, while the US and Israel contemplate over their relationship, Iran and Hezbollah will continue to reap whatever benefits they can from the crisis, albeit temporarily.

Last Mod: 26 Haziran 2014, 11:11
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