Thursday, 26 June 2014
Lebanon’s Hezbollah ready to fight ISIS in Iraq
Shi'ite militia could seek to expand fight against Sunni militants from Syria into Iraq
Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Lebanese Shi’ite militia Hezbollah is ready to intervene in Iraq to confront Sunni militants, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
During a Hezbollah rally in Lebanon on Monday, Mohammad Raad, head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc, said the Shi’ite militia is ready to “confront” ISIS and its backers at home and abroad.
“We know how to confront your plan in its own home, and how to topple all your delusions,” Raad said at a Hezbollah ceremony in Deir Al-Zahrani, according to the National News Agency.
Raad said that any party seeking to exploit ISIS to achieve their own goals would fail. “It will come back to you when our people in Iraq overthrow it,” he said.
Lebanese writer and political analyst Qasim Qasir, who has close ties to Hezbollah, affirmed that Hezbollah could seek to get involved in the fighting in Iraq, particularly as it is already fighting against ISIS in Syria.
“All options are on the table, and if the situation in the field evolved and required Hezbollah to get involved, then Hezbollah would be ready,” he said.
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah announced that the Shi’ite militia is prepared to “sacrifice” for Iraq.
“Hezbollah is willing to sacrifice for Iraq five times as much as we sacrificed in Syria for the significantly more important holy places,” Lebanese media outlets quoted Nasrallah as saying this week.
“As long as we have the spiritual leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, nothing will happen to our holy places across the world. We will be where we are needed,” he added.
Qasir said that he expected any future Hezbollah intervention in Iraq to be limited to “elite forces, military experts and consultants,” adding that “the logistics of deploying Hezbollah fighters to Iraq would be more difficult than in the case of Syria, because Lebanon does not have borders with Iraq.”
Hisham Jaber, director of the Center for Middle East Studies, told Asharq Al-Awsat that he did not expect Hezbollah to get involved with the conflict in Iraq anytime soon for logistical reasons.
“Hezbollah is well aware that getting involved in Iraq will not be like entering Syria. It may send dozens of its cadres to organize a few units under the pretext of visiting holy places. As for sending large numbers, that is not possible except if the south of Iraq becomes threatened,” he added.
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