Hezbollah and the Syrian Civil War
The reported presence of thousands of Hezbollah fighters and Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Syria to protect President Assad and his regime means Iran has made a strategic commitment not to lose Syria. That in turn means Syria will not follow the example of Libya.
Backed by Iran and Russia, Hezbollah will not allow Assad to be deposed, hunted down and assassinated, nor will it allow a massacre of Alawites and supporters of Assad. This emphasizes the importance of Hezbollah in Syria and the role it will likely play in any future settlement and government.
There will be no NATO/US military action in Syria, as there was in Libya.
But, as the US and Europeans support the Syrian rebels diplomatically and supply them with arms, Hezbollah’s presence in Syria is a game changer that should prompt policy rethinking.
With Hezbollah fighting alongside the Alawites, it will be impossible for the rebels to defeat Assad, and sooner or later the rebels will understand that they must make a deal which will allow for power-sharing and the protection of Alawites and other minorities. The Kurds, who have created a virtually autonomous region, will likely follow the path of the Iraqi Kurds toward quasiindependence.
Hezbollah is the critical element in such a deal - which would not only end the civil war, but ensure Hezbollah’s place in Syria - similar to its role in Lebanon.
As part of a new Syrian government, Hezbollah will be protected and legitimized.