Friday, July 06, 2018

Beginning the Reset

Hezbollah is beginning to reset their Syrian expeditionary force back home to Lebanon:

[So] far this year about half the Hezbollah forced has returned to Lebanon and more are leaving. This is largely because sending Lebanese Shia to fight for Iran and the Assads in Syria was never popular with Lebanese Shia (who are over a third of the Lebanese population and provide the militiamen for the Hezbollah “army’). Hezbollah was created in the 1980s due to massive amounts of Iranian cash, weapons and training. Hezbollah has been sustained ever since by Iranian aid. Lebanese Shia are uneasy with being dependent on Iran but it does provide the Lebanese Shia with more political power than they have ever had in Lebanon so they have remained loyal. But over the last five years just about every armed Hezbollah member has served in Syria, often multiple times. Over 12,000 Hezbollah have been killed or wounded in Syria and while Iran provided cash for death benefits and medical care the thousands of visibly crippled Hezbollah Syrian war veterans are a humiliating reminder that Hezbollah is a “servant” of Iran. Even the Iranian advisors with Hezbollah are aware of this attitude and that is why the size of the Hezbollah force in Syria has been reduced by about half so far in 2018. Iran hates giving up the Hezbollah fighters because they are the most effective Iranian mercenaries in Syria and the ones most suited to successfully using Syrian army uniforms and pass as Syrian troops so Iran can establish forces right on the Israel border. Most of the Iranian mercenaries are Afghans, who have a hard time passing for Syrians. There are still about 4,000 Hezbollah fighters in Syria but many are assigned to Lebanese border areas where they help enhance the Hezbollah reputation back in Lebanon by visibly keeping Islamic terrorists and other bad people out of Lebanon.

I figured Israel would want to strike Hezbollah in Lebanon in a deep multi-division ground raid after the Syria multi-war ends but while Hezbollah was still heavily committed. This would maximize the pain on Hezbollah from the Syria expedition and minimize the number of Hezbollah troops in Lebanon actually prepared to face Israel.

But as time has gone on with no strike, I've started to wonder if I'm way off.

Does the redeployment of Hezbollah forces back to Lebanon indicate Israel lost their chance?

Or perhaps Israel wants more Hezbollah troops back in Lebanon where they can be killed in the raid rather than safely riding out the ride in Syria before returning to Lebanon to rebuild their terror state.

It will take time to reset the training of Hezbollah's forces to face Israeli tactics after years of fighting rebels. So the reset isn't just moving gunmen out of Syria.

Connecting dots is hard.