By Mark Ellis –
The sanctions imposed on Iran are working almost too well, pushing them and their proxies to the brink of war.
Just as Japan lashed out at the U.S. at Pearl Harbor in response to a U.S.-imposed oil embargo, Iran and Hezbollah may resort to a military strike as their only response remaining to the current economic squeeze.
“Hezbollah’s forces, battle-hardened in the Syrian civil war, have begun redeploying toward the Israeli border, not only in Lebanon, but in Syria opposite the Israeli-occupied side of the Golan Heights,” notes Jesse Rosenfeld in the Daily Beast.
Rosenfeld is a Canadian journalist who has been based in the Middle East since 2007.
Hezbollah fighters who spoke to him said their organization is suffering from the sanctions and ready to fight—whenever Tehran gives them the green light.
Commander Samir*, a Hezbollah officer in charge of 800 fighters on Lebanon’s border with Israel, says: “We will fire the first shot this time.”
He maintains the combat will be far more devastating in the coming war.
While Hezbollah continues to fight in Syria, they are also training Iranian allied militias in Iraq and Yemen, according to Rosenfeld.
The commander said Iran has patched up their differences with the Palestinians (over Syria) and are once again providing training and support for Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
Hezbollah has a foothold in the Syrian-controlled part of the Golan, “giving it the ability to open a second front there against Israel, and boasts about drone capabilities and new anti-aircraft and anti-naval weapons acquired in Syria alongside a more seasoned fighting force.”
While Assad once placed limits on Hezbollah’s activities in the Golan, “Now there are no red lines,” the commander told Rosenfeld.
The sanctions have caused salaries for Hezbollah fighters to be cut in half, three fighters reported.
Iran and Hezbollah are marching in lockstep. “If any missile hits Iran, it will be treated like Israel did it,” the commander told Rosenfeld.
Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said last week that another war would “bring Israel to the brink of extinction.”
He said he didn’t intend to start a war with Israel. That posture was affirmed by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif a few days later. Zarif stated that Iran will not start a war but will defend itself.
*not his real name