06/07/2013 02:55 pm ET Updated Aug 07, 2013

The Fall of Qusayr: A Scar on the Conscience of the Security Council

The international community can receive congratulations, like those received by Hezbollah from the Islamic Republic of Iran, on the occasion of the fall of the Syrian city of Qusayr, a city of strategic importance for Iran's goals, and for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. If only Russia had alone been qualified for congratulations on the fall of Qusayr at the hands of its allies, Syrian, Iranian and Lebanese, as represented by the leadership of the Shiite party that has made use of its "resistance" in the service of maintaining the regime in Damascus...For the United States too deserves to be congratulated, as do all the members of the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) and of the European Union. The Security Council in its entirety can be congratulated, in turn, and with it the Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon. They all failed to do their duties, and sufficed themselves with taking pro forma measures and only too late. This happened as they watched a battle in which they knew full well the meaning of a victory for the axis of Iran, Russia, China, the Assad regime and Hezbollah. Indeed, the international community decided to watch the massacres take place and the victims of airstrikes fall, children, women and men, refusing to raise its voice in anything that could be heard or would be worth mentioning. Even when evidence became available of chemical weapons having been used, the international community preferred not to lay the blame on any side of the conflict in Syria, the regime and its allies in the axis of defiance, or the opposition and its allies in their fragmented axis, which includes Western and Arab countries in addition to Turkey. All of them deserve the most heartfelt congratulations on the fall of Qusayr, because they truly contributed to its fall, with or without pangs of conscience.

What happened in Qusayr is the responsibility of the international community, because everyone fled forward, pretending that they had no choice. It is a scar on the conscience of the UN Security Council, the latter having become the willing witness of the massacres in Syria, under the pretense of waiting for a peaceful solution - that elusive solution being cooked up by the skillful trio of the United States, Russia and Joint United Nations and Arab League Envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to find a mechanism for an agreement and a sequence of execution for what had previously been met with consensus from the five permanent members of the Security Council a year ago in the Geneva agreement.

Perhaps worse than the Security Council are those members of the "Arab community", including the League of Arab States, who speak of powerlessness and of resorting to the Security Council in order to hide in the shadow of the latter's powerlessness. And the worst among this "community" are those who encouraged the extremists and weakened the moderates in the Syrian opposition, and then abandoned both at once, out of fear of being in effect held to account by the West for supporting the Al-Nusra Front and similar Al-Qaeda affiliates. So, what now? And is the milestone of Qusayr really so fateful and final?

Hezbollah has achieved two victories that are under threat of failure:

The first is Qusayr, the victory in which is drenched in resentment, as well as in strife, in which Hezbollah has gotten itself implicated and has implicated the Shiite community in Lebanon.

The second is the cancellation of the Lebanese legislative elections, an "achievement" that comes amid the collapse of the standing of both the state and Hezbollah, accompanied by the "laying bare" of the resistance, with it being put to use for ends unconnected to Israel and its occupation.

At the Lebanese level, it was clear mathematically and in the numbers that, had the legislative elections been held as scheduled this month, Hezbollah would have suffered a dire loss, which means it would also have lost the power to form the new cabinet, as well as its iron grip on the country. In the language of numbers, upon calculation, Hezbollah would not have been able to win the elections, not just because thousands of its men were fighting in Syria with the goal of achieving victory specifically in the battle of Qusayr, and those men (between 10 and 15 thousand) would not have voted in the elections, but also because the votes which Hezbollah would have brought from among the Shiites in Syria aboard voting "buses" will not have been available due to the situation in Syria. In the numbers and mathematically, Hezbollah would not have been able to win the elections, and that is why it resolved to cancel them through fear-mongering and threatening to undermine the country's stability.

The geniuses of the Lebanese opposition, as represented by the March 14 Alliance, were quick to offer up the gift of this abominable extension of the parliament's term for a year and a half, without thinking of anything in return. They bought stability by paying in advance, in order to evade intimidation. Thus the geniuses of March 14 offered Hezbollah and its partners in the March 8 Alliance the gift of sparing them defeat in the elections, and denied themselves the opportunity to win and to regain the initiative as well as the government. Now the picture is perfectly clear: Hezbollah has achieved victory in the elections without running in them, when its defeat in the elections had been clear as day. It has bought the time that it needs and is moving in tune with the Syrian military schedule, because it is confident that its ally the regime in Damascus will achieve military victory, and that this regime's President, Bashar al-Assad, will remain in power without a process of political transition until after the presidential elections in Syria a year from now.

Hezbollah has maintained a caretaker government that suits it, and has weakened the Prime Minister-designate charged with forming a new cabinet, Tammam Salam, who has failed to make use of the momentum that had accompanied his appointment and has fallen into a vicious circle that has voided him of the capabilities necessary to seize the reins of the current phase and of the country. Hezbollah has created a climate in parliament, in the government, and in the political classes that would allow it perhaps later to bring down the President of the Republic, Michel Suleiman, when the time comes to extend his term. Thus, with a master stroke, and with valuable contribution from March 14, Hezbollah has been able to take hold of the entire country. Part of this is thanks to the instability and the fear of the forces of the March 14 Alliance. They deserve to be congratulated for Hezbollah's "achievement", and they have now become as one who has severed his own legs and threatened to run a footrace.

In spite of all of this, Hezbollah's victory in this battle is not to its advantage, because it will be controlling a country of which at least half the people do not trust it and do not want it in this forceful form. This is in the best of cases. In the worst, Hezbollah taking Lebanon hostage and placing it in the service of Iran is not necessarily a fixed or permanent matter, and its wager against at least half of the Lebanese people, or rather more accurately against three-quarters of them, will therefore only be a prelude to resentment and strife. Indeed, Hezbollah has become a belligerent in the war in Syria, in a confessional war in fact, and is no longer representative of resistance against Israel as it claimed in the past. Moreover, the worst of what Hezbollah has to offer in its new form is what it has to offer the Shiite community, which it is implicating in Syria and in Lebanon equally.

At the moment, Hezbollah is celebrating its two victories in Lebanon and in Syria's Qusayr. It feels that it has entered a war and won a battle, leaving it arrogant and self-confident, especially as the international community encouraged it to achieve victory in what they both have portrayed as a war against Al-Qaeda, the Al-Nusra Front and similar Takfiri groups. Yet to slip into the quagmire of Syria will remain a goal sought and a trap set by the West - and most prominently the United States and Israel - for Hezbollah. They are both part of this international community that encouraged and allowed its victory in Qusayr. Thus Hezbollah's victory in Qusayr becomes threatened with failure.

Regarding Iran within the equation of Qusayr and what comes after, on the other hand, there are two schools of thought:

One claims that US President Barack Obama sees in Syria "Iran's Vietnam", and is not opposed to seeing it exhausted there, even at the hands of Al-Qaeda and similar groups.

The other school insists on the fact that the United States and Israel want to achieve the "Shiite Crescent" that would connect Iran to Israel through Hezbollah in Lebanon and strengthen the historical relationship of truce between the two of them, as well as serve their common goal: dwarfing the Arabs in the regional balance of power in the Middle East.

Perhaps what is required is both goals together - the quagmire and "strife", as well as the crescent of truce - and it was thus imperative to allow Qusayr to fall into the hands of the axis of defiance. There are also some who are of the opinion that the American plan behind giving Russia the position of leadership in the Syrian predicament dictates drawing it towards the Syrian quagmire after having "Afghanized" it. Thus, just as the Soviet Union fell in Afghanistan, Russia will perhaps fall in Syria, despite its excessive self-confidence today in having been victorious and having seized the reins of leadership with America's blessing.

This is politics! This is the strategy of withdrawal and misdirection.

Washington perhaps considers it in its interest to suggest to Moscow that Russia is winning the political battle in the war in Syria, inside the Security Council and outside. This is why American diplomacy is submitting to Russia's dictates and not raising a finger at the Security Council, and why the US administration is backing down before Russia's demands, ceasing to demand that Bashar al-Assad step down and working on the Geneva 2 conference. It is clear that the race between the military track and the political track in the war in Syria is ongoing and is heating up. Soon we will hear that the West has decided to enable the moderate armed opposition to be supplied with weapons in order to reverse the military balance of power, just as Russia and Iran rushed to enable the regime's forces and Hezbollah to reverse the military balance of power in Qusayr. This is how Syria is being torn apart with the contribution of all players, at different levels.

The coming phase will witness more of this "balance" or of restoring it, while the Security Council will remain neutralized and lying in the shadow of having been voided of its power and standing. The United States, Russia, the United Nations and the Arab League will continue to rattle on about an international conference that will be of no use. Fierce battles will continue to spread in order to seize important locations to connect Iran to Lebanon through Syria after the fall of Qusayr, with the goal of connecting the two allies that are Iran and Israel. The most dangerous thing the armed Syrian opposition could get implicated in is moving its battles in Syria to Lebanon, regardless of its pretexts based on the necessity of fighting Hezbollah on its home soil after it came to Syria to fight the opposition on its own home soil. Indeed, it would thereby be creating a quagmire and a predicament for itself that will divert it from its main fundamental goals inside of Syria.

The statements of Free Syrian Army (FSA) Chief of Staff Brigadier General Salim Idris about fighting Hezbollah inside Lebanon, because "Hezbollah fighters are invading Syrian territory and the Lebanese authorities don't take any action to stop them", represent a stance similar to one shooting oneself in the foot. Indeed, the Free Syrian Army has no need for the enmity and anger of all the Lebanese for carrying out operations inside Lebanon, regardless of its justifications about Hezbollah having started in its own country. Indeed, such talk will be rejected, and it will wipe away any sympathy and solidarity between a segment of the Lebanese and the Syrian opposition. Let revenge then take place inside of Syria, as long as Hezbollah is present there, and let the focus remain on the inter-Syrian battle for the sake of Syria.