Hezbollah renounces its support of Iran

Iran is Hezbollah’s principal supporter and financier in Lebanon. Israel is one of Hezbollah’s main adversaries. So it should have come as no surprise when, in November 2011, the leader of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, announced that Hezbollah would support Iran if it were attacked by Israel , as reported by The Daily Star in Lebanon:

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah warned the United States and Israel Friday that any war on Iran or Syria will engulf the entire region, in a clear signal that his party will join the fight against the Jewish state by opening the south Lebanon front which has been dormant since the devastating 2006 conflict .

However, a surprise did come the other day when Nasrallah recanted his earlier announcement. While couched in diplomatic language, the meaning is clear: Hezbollah no longer intends to support Iran if Israel attacks it. According to Asharq Alawsat:

“There is speculation about what wound happen if Israel bombed Iran’s nuclear facilities,” Nasrallah said. “I tell you that the Iranian leadership will not ask Hezbollah to do anything. On that day, we will sit, think and decide what we will do.”

Given the relationship between Iran and Hezbollah, it is interesting to speculate why Nasrallah would flipflop on this issue. (Perhaps because an Israeli attack on Iran would be a fait accompli; or because such an attack would not change the facts on the ground?) Another good question is why Nasrallah picked now to make his announcement. (International sanctions implemented over the last several months have demonstrated that much of the world has aligned against Iran’s nuclear program; if Israel attacked Iran, escalating the crisis further would make Hezbollah’s position vis-a-vis the rest of the world significantly worse? Also, is Hezbollah concerned about the deteriorating situation in Syria, its local benefactor?)

But an even more interesting question is why Nasrallah announced Hezbollah’s intentions on this matter publicly. How does a public announcement that Hezbollah no longer intends to support Iran serve Hezbollah’s interests?

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  • Charu says:

    There is no one who understands the jihadi mindset better than Israel, because they literally walk in the valleys of the shadows of death.

  • DickF says:

    It serves Hezbollah’s interests for at least three reasons I can think of:
    1. Hezbollah knows that if it intervenes in an Israel-Iran conflict, it will invite a ferocious Israeli counterattack, one that will probably make even the devastation and casualties of the 2006 war seem minor in comparison.
    Whatever else he may be, Nasrallah is not stupid. While Hezbollah may lie and spin the story of what happened in 2006 to the rest of the world, Nasrallah knows the truth only too well.
    2. Syria is looking more wobbly every day. It’s entirely possible that Hezbollah has made the calculation (as have others) that Assad’s days are numbered. If he falls, Hezbollah’s main arms supply conduit will be cut off. That being likely, why would Hezbollah take a foolish gamble by participating in a war with Israel?
    3. Last but not least, Hezbollah probably knows that Iran’s ability to retaliate for an Israeli attack is limited at best. Iran has only a limited supply of large ballistic missiles (Shahab 3s) with the range needed to reach Israel. Israel also has a very effective missile defense system in place.
    If Hezbollah has entered the war, after Iran has shot its bolt against Israel, Hezbollah’s continued survival in Lebanon will be in grave jeopardy.

  • Gary says:

    They will support Iran…they just have to act like its their decision to support Iran…not that they are puppets. Hezbollah has been repeatedly called out for being an Iranian stooge. They are of course, but they like to do a lot of pretending over there… That is until its time to kill them some ‘infidels’

  • Not Fooled says:

    Shia Taqiya: that’s all this is.
    A blatant LIE. Of course Hizbullah will assist Iran.

  • Last Man says:

    1. Definitive answer on who won 2006 Lebanon War, Israel. Hezbollah deterred.
    2. Hezbollah strategy of public and secret diplomacy towards Israel to stop preemptive attack on leadership and supplies during Israeli main attack on Iran. Hezbollah mitigates Israeli intelligence gains, mobilizes and retains strategic options at maximum strength.
    3.Hezbollah legitimacy crises. Fellow Arab opinion matters more than tainted Iranian support given current events. Defense of Lebanon is Hezbollah reason for being not serving as Iranian proxy to open second front when Iranian interests command. Lebanese, Arab and regional politics curtail Hezbollah strategic options.

  • Louie says:

    “Hezbollah renounces its support for Iran”
    …come on, please!?
    A heading could not be more misleading and false. Perhaps Nasrallah wants it established that Hezbollah is an independent body that thinks for itself and doesn’t blindly follow the wishes of its master Iran, but to say it “renounces its support for Iran” is beyond a stretch. It’s naive and fools gold to think Hezbollah, even if only covertly, will not be heavily engaged in any Iranian conflict with Israel.

  • Joe says:

    This probably has to be seen through the view of Lebanese politics. I do not think Hezbollah can both dominate the Lebanese government and then embroil the country in another disastrous war with Israel. The last time they got a metric ton of Iranian money to help appease the disgruntled masses, but their coalition partners might very well abandon them in they repeated that mistake. The Israelis have made it clear that they view all of Lebanon’s infrastructure as legitimate targets while Hezbollah is dominating the government.

  • Demetrius Minneapolis says:

    Posted by Not Fooled at February 11, 2012 3:36 AM ET:
    Shia Taqiya: that’s all this is.
    A blatant LIE. Of course Hizbullah will assist Iran.
    My thinking exactly. They play Sun Tzu while we in the west play Dr.Seuss.

  • mike merlo says:

    This should be taken seriously. One thing about people is when their very survival is at stake they’ll do what’s absolutely necessary. If Iran should happen to develop a nuclear weapon, the wherewithal to deliver it & the insanity to use all of the Eastern Mediterranean is at risk.
    Personally I think if Iran should ever use a nuclear weapon against Israel they would fire off a missile barrage as cover & try & ‘deliver’ it via aircraft or smuggle one via land or sea. Probably all of the above.
    Besides no nation, to & including the US, has ever launched a nuclear armed missile & had it successfully detonate it’s payload. That technology is extremely difficult to master if at all.

  • Terry says:

    The only thing that comes to mind is the Arab – Persian rift. Arabs will support other Arabs and the Persian / Iranian interference in Syria could be seen as reason to abandon Iranian support. Hezbollah may be using disinformation against the Israelis. Good luck with that game! Another consideration is the publicly stated position of Israel that the next conflict with Hezbollah will be the complete annihilation of Hezbollah. As others have previously stated the truth very likely lies elsewhere.

  • C-Low says:

    “They will support Iran…they just have to act like its their decision to support”
    If I was Israel once the firing started with Iran I would concentrate on absolutely crushing the Hezbo military power. If Syria collapses into a Sunni orbit and a short exchange with Iran vs Israel/west (likely Sunni also) then Israel’s primary should be the crippling off the Hezbo so later on afterwards the “Arab Spring” can roll back to were it started Lebanon except with a fighting chance this time.

  • Green76 says:

    Nasrallah would rather sit, think, and decide what to do after an Israeli attack on Iran than sit, think, and decide what to do after an Israeli attack on Iran and Hezbollah. It’s easier to respond when you are not being attacked and your enemy is looking elswhere. Nasrallah is not fooling anyone though.

  • mike merlo says:

    Obviously those commenting on this development don’t ‘get it!’ If Iran chooses to nuke Israel Hezbollah is finished. The fallout alone will kill hundreds of thousands if not millions. If Iran is able to get within 50 to 100 miles of Tel Aviv with a land smuggled bomb Israel & the surrounding area is still seriously compromised.

  • Don says:

    An interesting puzzle. From my POV it seems likely Nasrallah is trying to keep his options open. He may be thinking that vague “diplo-speak” will buy him some maneuvering room should the Israelis attack Iranian nuclear facilities. After all, they have credibility here — remember Osirak? Nasrallah may be seeking some imaginary protection from Israel by being purposely vague in just what Hezbollah will do…good luck. Even if the Israelis were inclined to cut him some slack, his statement “…we will sit, think and decide what we will do” is too vague for the Israelis to risk leaving Hezbollah alone.
    The Israelis are far more likely to think “In for a penny, in for a pound” and sweep the table clean. They already know the other Arab states neighboring Iran (except for Syria and some elements in Iraq) would be very happy to see Iranian power curbed. So, don’t expect anything out of them other than the usual manufactured outrage. After all, the relationship between Arabs and Persians hasn’t exactly been amicable over the past couple thousand years…don’t expect a lot of tears to be shed by the Saudi, UAE, Omani, Jordanian and Iraqi leadership. Egypt, in the grips of the “Arab Spring” Islamists might make some bellicose gestures, but they’re not a nuclear power, and the Army’s not exactly in great shape to launch a unilateral attack on Israel.
    It may be the best way to settle the issue in Syria is for the Israelis to take down the Iranians. That way, the Syrian regime loses its most dependable military backer. The likelihood of China and Russia doing more than protest is remote…Russia lacks the conventional power projection capability to do more than protest.
    Kabul, Afghanistan

  • Pancake76 says:

    Who cares what Nusrella says now, they will behave as they always do. Violence is not hard to predict. This is for American and European, liberal left edification. The problem for most concerned citizens, should be not who is stating a lie (Most mideasetern leaders lie cradle to grave) but rather who the naked lie is intended for.

  • davidp says:

    If Hezbollah anounced (again) now that if Israel attacks the Iranian nuclear program, Hezbollah will attack Israel, that provides a justification for Isral to pre-emptively attack Hezbollah at the same time it attacks Iran. Pretending Hezbollah will make an independent decision make is politically harder for Israel to do that. I think the announcement was made now
    a) to influence a potential Israeli attack on Hezbollah
    b) to appease Lebanese who fear Hezbollah dragging Lebanon into war with Israel.
    The announcement is actually worthless, since Hezbollah will actually act strictly in Iran’s interests and on Iran’s orders, but it will have these two effects.

  • HJM says:

    Does anyone buy that? That’s up there with Iran claiming they have no intention to seek a nuclear weapon.

  • Devin Leonard says:

    My view is that Hezbollah is afraid of a combined Israeli/US response against thier organization. During the 2006 war, Israel dealt a heavy blow against Hezbollah and later an Israeli Kidon Mossad unit killed that dirt bag Imad Mugniyah:)
    Without Mugniyah Hezbollah has not been nearly as strong. They are also afraid of what the US could do to them via Spec Ops and Drones. They have seen how we have devestated Al Qaida/Taliban forces in Afghanistan and they are not keen on having us open up a second front against them along with Israel. Hezbollah would be smart to stay on the sidelines unless Nasrallah wants to be the first to get assassinated by the CIA/US Military or Mossad/Israeli Military!

  • Knighthawk says:

    I don’t buy it for a minute, they are just trying to prevent a preemptive hit should Israelis decide to go for broke, which I doubt is gonna happen anyway. At best it’s just an attempt to project them as keeping their options open as Don suggested (read: what could we get in return for not attacking?) as the clouds continue to gather over the Syrian regimes future. HJM you summed it up pretty nicely though I think.

  • mike merlo says:

    excellent observation

  • Infidel4LIFE says:

    They will bring on their own destruction. they may be lying, but this gives Israel the excuse to utterly destroy them. Its worse if the US is involved. Nothing to gain, ask Mullah Omar.

  • Bob says:

    Maybe Iran missed a payment?

  • IRAN is Love says:

    I think hizbullah showed it’s power during 2006 war .
    never forget , destroying cities and people was the only thing Israel did during that war as they were unable to beat hizbullah on the ground and lost a lot of merkava tanks.
    I don’t think US and it’s allies have succeeded in Iraq or Afghanistan as they couldn’t destroy alqaede or Taliban after years they were in those countries.
    And never forget If US and Israel were able they wouldn’t have let Iran advance like this and make hizbullah in leobnan – shihab missile factories in Syria , AL Mahdi group in Iraq and Hamas in Palestine , They all know that can’t stop Iran and that’s why they are killing Iranian scientists and trying to make Arabian countries afraid of Iran but we see the west economic ship is drowning and those selfish western governments even aren’t able to save their hungry people and haven’t reached none of their targets in Iraq and Afghanistan after losing thousands of troops and killing innocent people.
    Iran showed it’s power during Iran-Iraq war while the whole world were supporting Iraq to destroy the Islamic revolution at the beginning but they couldn’t and now you see all the Arabian countries are against American and western goals .


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