"And I have found both freedom and safety in my madness, the freedom of loneliness and the safety from being understood, for those who understand us enslave something in us. But let me not be too proud of my safety. Even a Thief in a jail is safe from another thief. "

Khalil Gibran (How I Became a Madman)



Saturday, May 20, 2017

Analysis: Hezbollah redeploys forces after withdrawal from Syrian-Lebanese border positions- The Long War Journal

Last week, Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah gave a televised speech on Al-Manar on the anniversary of the assassination of the group’s commander, Mustafa Badreddine. In addition to his usual anti-Israel and anti-Saudi diatribes, Nasrallah announced the withdrawal of Hezbollah’s forces from the Lebanese-Syrian border and the hand-over of their positions to the Lebanese army. Their mission – to repel the threat of Sunni militias to Hezbollah’s Baalbek and Beqaa Valley strongholds – had been accomplished, he announced. But there is more to the story: Hezbollah’s forces were not demobilized, they were merely redeployed. It appears that Hezbollah has repositioned its men for the ongoing battles in Syria.
Hezbollah’s jihadists have supplied crucial manpower for Bashar al Assad’s regime. The Syrian army is currently engaged in a large-scale military operation in the eastern Syrian desert, with the goal of reaching the Syrian-Iraqi border, and they are in need of reinforcements to fortify their current positions, as well as to aid in their eastward push. Assad’s allies in Hezbollah have been inserting additional fighters into the Syrian battlefield and reorganizing their positions in Lebanon to facilitate the movement of additional fighters and equipment across the border.
Indeed, reports indicate that the withdrawal trumpeted by Nasrallah was in fact a redeployment along the Lebanese border. A high-ranking Lebanese Army official told the Lebanese pro-Western al-Joumhouria that “there are no Hezbollah positions in Arsal or Ra’s Baalbek,” Lebanese towns near the Syrian border where the group was formerly present. The Lebanese Army “alone is deployed in these areas and is expanding its deployment on [Lebanon’s] eastern border.” This dovetails with recent reports in Al-Joumhouria of the Army intensifying its operations against the Islamic State and the group formerly known as Al Nusrah Front in those towns.
The official also denied claims that Hezbollah had targeted Nusrah commanders from the Lebanese town of Arsal, noting that any such attacks would have been launched from the organization’s Syrian positions and not from within Lebanon. This coincides with Daily Star and Al-Masdar News (pro-Assad regime outlet) reporting on continued “heavy clashes” between the Shiite group and Sunni militants on the Syrian side of the border in the immediate days after Nasrallah’s speech.