Hezbollah's Thinking About Joining the Syrian Civil War

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Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, is running his mouth about Syria again, only this time the Assad ally sounds like he's actually getting ready to make a move. The leader gave a speech on Hezbollah's al-Manar TV channel Tuesday, throwing around big phrases like "dangerous retribution" and pulling Russia and Iran into the fold. "You will not be able to take Damascus by force and you will not be able to topple the regime militarily. This is a long battle," Nasrallah said in a speech directed at the Syrian opposition. "Syria has real friends in the region and in the world who will not allow Syria to fall into the hands of America or Israel."

This could be a lot of hot air — and it's not even that hot — but if Hezbollah actually does intervene, things could get dicey. With its own long range missiles, Hezbollah is not kidding around, and with strong ties to Russia and Iran, there's a chance the Shiite Muslim group could stir what's become an increasingly volatile diplomatic situation in the region. Zeina Karam at the Associated Press explains:

Deeper and more overt Hezbollah involvement in the Syrian conflict is almost certain to threaten stability in Lebanon, which is sharply split along sectarian lines, and between supporters and opponents of Assad. It also risks drawing in Israel and Iran into a wider Middle East war.

Meanwhile, the United States has all but committed to intervening itself after multiple reports of the Assad regime using chemical weapons on its own people. The U.S. maintains a complicated relationship with Hezbollah which it very recently described as "a full-fledged terrorist organization, lavishly funded over the years by Iran." The U.S. does not like full-fledged terrorist organizations, especially if they're pals with Iran.

It's hard to predict the future, but based on Nasrallah's comments, it's clear that the situation in Syria's not going to get any simpler. In fact, Emile Hokayem, an analyst with the International Institute for Strategic Studies, thinks it'll be quite the opposite. He told The Guardian, "Nasrallah just made sure Syria will get a lot worse."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.