While Israel isn’t the U.S., and Lebanon isn’t Afghanistan, the common themes that run through both sets of wars are jarring, especially in the way a Western democracy tries to end a military campaign and how it manages (or not) the fate of local allies who fought alongside it.
In the dusty farms and villages of Sinjar, the interests of Iran and Turkey collide. Here in northern Iraq, Tehran is allying with non-state actors in order to further its own interests — this time with the controversial PKK group, which will bring it into conflict with Ankara.
Hezbollah’s leader is a master of ceremonies and narrative. The head of arguably the world’s most powerful nonstate militant group is blessed with an auteur’s sense of theatrics and spectacle. He exemplified the tenaciousness of the Lebanese and their exceptionalism, capable of achieving what the world bet they could not.
The obstacles are daunting, but no law of nature dictates that Lebanon must remain last in line to make an honorable and complete peace with its neighbor to the south, one that secures the interests of the “Precarious Republic” and its citizens.
The maritime dispute between Israel and Lebanon has implications for the claims of other states and the energy industry’s perception of the region as a viable space for development. If Israel and Lebanon manage to work out their differences, others may follow suit.
What shocked me as I listened to al-Assad was his lack of hesitation in telling an American diplomat point-blank that the Shebaa Farms — the entire basis for Hezbollah’s claimed status as the “Lebanese Resistance” — was not Lebanese; it was Syrian.
The outbreak of the Syrian uprising caught Israel by surprise. Here a former negotiator considers how close Syria and Israel got to a peace deal before the revolution – and how, as the civil war unfolded, Israel’s thinking evolved on how to respond to the war next door.