Originally published 02/21/2013
The presence of a reported 50,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Syria to support President Bashar Assad is an indication of what Iran and Hezbollah have in mind – the preservation of Syria as a strategic asset in the regional power struggle. Losing Syria would leave Hezbollah isolated in Lebanon; a Syrian-Lebanese alliance, on the other hand, would allow Hezbollah to fortify Iranian interests in both countries.A future Syrian government would then comprise a Sunni-Hezbollah alliance, similar to the political structure in Lebanon, without Assad and the Alawites, who would become a minority protected by Hezbollah. Following the Lebanese model, Hezbollah in Syria would be a state-within-a-state, with its own army and political structure, allied with a weak, fragmented Islamist Sunni-dominated state. For Hezbollah this is the perfect solution; it allows them to function covertly without the inconveniences of diplomatic restrictions.Hezbollah can and will attack Israel, as it did in the Second Lebanese War (2006), protected by its parent state and entrenched within Syria, with vastly expanded capabilities....
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