The Mideastwire Blog

Excerpts from the Arab and Iranian Media & Analysis of US Policy in the Region

Kuntar killing by Israel raising hard questions, as expected, about “alliance” w/ Hezbollah

Translated this evening in our Daily Briefing (for a free trial email

As I wrote in Foreign Affairs in early October, the Israeli strike that killed Kuntar is exactly the kind of breach that the Russian intervention would eventually raise when it comes to its “alliance” with Hezbollah and Syria’s Assad. Now this is being hotly debated in Lebanon and Syria and beyond…and undoubtedly hard questions are being asked by Hezbollah about the future and exact contours of the “alliance.”

My piece in FA Magazine:

“Strange Bedfellows in Syria: Russian Intervention Could Constrain Iran and Hezbollah—and Help Israel”/Foreign Affairs, October 2015 (Subscriber only-accesible via Mideastwire Blog)

On December 20, the Lebanon Debate website carried the following piece by Linda Fayez al-Tannouri: “This morning was less happy. The Israeli pilot who targeted the senior hostage, Samir al-Kuntar, also targeted the stature of a so-called alliance. The Israeli rockets fell on a building in the Syrian area of Jermana, which is only five kilometers away from Damascus. They fell there and nothing stopped them. This crime cannot be deemed a punishment nor a response. This is an announcement of the Israeli authority that nothing can stop.

“Syria’s sky is now the scene of all sorts of weapons and air forces that wish to confront ISIL. S-400 air defense batteries are deployed all over the Syrian lands. Russia is coordinating its military operations with Israel and there’s a direct communication line to prevent any accidental clash between their jets… Russia is the most powerful party in the Syrian field. But Al-Kuntar’s operation negates all the measures, agreements and rules of engagement that were being heavily discussed following the Russian intervention on the Syrian lands.

“Hezbollah is supposed to be allied in blood with the Syrian army and supported with money and weapons from Iran, Russia’s military and political ally in the file of the Syrian crisis. Does the death of Al-Kuntar constitute a message to challenge Hezbollah and the Russian-Iranian-Syrian axis? Is Moscow willing to force its ally, Al-Assad, to engage in a ceasefire in commitment to the Security Council’s resolution? Will Hezbollah accept that Al-Kuntar’s assassination goes by smoothly? This is highly unlikely in light of the Kuneitra and Shebaa Farms operations…

“Hezbollah doesn’t want a war for Israel but it doesn’t fear one. Hezbollah might not accept the rules of engagement imposed by Moscow. Whenever the Party receives a blow, it responds with a stronger blow. So why did Russia, at this highly sensitive time, allow for an Israeli infiltration into “its own arena?” Did the Tsar promise Netanyahu of clipping Hezbollah’s wings and limiting the expansion of the Iranian authority in the region in return of the latter accepting the appointment of Putin as the leader of the world’s war against terror? Is today’s event only the beginning of the promise-keeping phase? When, how and where will Hezbollah respond?

“…Samir al-Kuntar is not a Shi’i man who went from Lebanon to Syria in order to fight the Bashar al-Assad regime. Targeting the Druze Samir al-Kuntar indicates that the conflict in our region is not a purely sectarian one and that our conflict with Israel is an existential one. In Al-Kuntar’s death lay a thousand answers on his country’s right to a decent place under the sun. People like Al-Kuntar do not go away. They sleep in the memory of the land and the earth along with one phrase: I know why they killed me.”


Written by nickbiddlenoe

December 22, 2015 at 3:16 am

Posted in Uncategorized

%d bloggers like this: