from Pressure Points and Middle East Program

Syria: Greetings From Hezbollah

May 1, 2013

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Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, spoke about Syria on Tuesday, and it is fair to say that he is not intimidated by American policy. The Nasrallah speech is a reminder that use of chemical weapons is not the only issue we face in Syria; the intervention of Iranian IRGC and Hezbollah troops is another.

They are in Syria already, as press reports have stated--and as funerals of Hezbollah soldiers in Syria confirm. The American reaction has been weak, and certainly has not been strong enough to deter either party, Hezbollah or Iran, from sending more fighters to help save Assad.

As I argue in National Review, loose tough rhetoric is not the answer, for no one wants the President to bluff. Nor can he act if the facts do not support claims he is making. But the facts regarding Syria include, now, 75,000 dead, 4 million displaced, 515,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan (and growing by 60,000 per month), two uses of chemical weapons, the presence in Syria of roughly 5,000 jihadis, and the presence there of Iranian IRGC and Hezbollah soldiers.

The American response, two years into this war, has been pathetic: humanitarian aid went largely through the Assad government until just weeks ago, non-lethal aid has just started arriving, and lethal aid has been ruled out until now. The administration is said to be considering it. And what if Hezbollah and Iran see us and raise us, increasing the number of their fighters in Syria? The President said two years ago that Assad must go, and he said it again yesterday. It always weakens a president, and weakens the United States,when such talk is not matched by a policy that will achieve the stated goal. As I argue more fully in National Review, it is long past time for the President--who has previously rejected proposals from his top advisers for more vigorous action-- to adopt and to implement a determined policy that will bring Assad down.

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