Hizbullah Losing Its Luster under Iranian General Soleimani

(Washington Institute for Near East Policy) Hanin Ghaddar - The deteriorating relations between Hizbullah and the Syrian regime are no longer secret. Lebanese social media platforms affiliated with supporters of Hizbullah are replete with mockery of the Syrian army's incompetence, corruption, clumsiness, and cowardice, with Assad's forces often blamed for causing Hizbullah losses. Hizbullah has been working under the supervision of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) for years, but IRGC-Qods Force commander Qasem Soleimani began micromanaging their military operations to an unprecedented degree. As one Hizbullah fighter told the author in December, "It was clear to many of us that [Soleimani's] priority was to protect the Iranians, and that [Hizbullah fighters] and all non-Iranian Shiites could be sacrificed." Similarly, a number of other Hizbullah fighters have complained of being abandoned by their Iranian and Iraqi Shiite allies on the battlefield. Such incidents led to many losses among Hizbullah's ranks, and some fighters subsequently refused to fight under Iranian commanders. As a result, significant numbers of veterans have been leaving Hizbullah and are being replaced by newcomers who are thrown into battle after a month or two of training. Previously, Hizbullah spent decades screening and preparing its fighters. Today, Hizbullah's army in Syria is full of unreliable young fighters who have no real moral compass. The writer, a veteran Lebanese journalist, is a visiting fellow at The Washington Institute.

2017-02-23 00:00:00

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