Qusayr was a debacle for the West and Israel: Aftershocks in Lebanon, Golan and Gaza Strip
The Syrian rebels’ defeat in the key town of al Qusayr, Wednesday, June 6, was also a major strategic debacle for the US, Israel and Western Europe, the price they paid for leaving allied Syrian-Hizballah troops orchestrated by Iranian officers a clear field to win the day. The Syrian-Hizballah machine is now ready to capitalize on its victory and roll into Aleppo and southern Syria to extinguish rebel resistance there too. Israel is next in its sights.
Five months ago, on February 26, an exclusive debkafile video report, entitled “Bashar Assad, Ali Khamenei, Vladimir Putin and Hassan Nasrallah Have Won the War," revealed how step by step Bashar Assad was turning the tide of war and recovering the initiative, backed by a broad alliance of Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Hizballah.
This alliance is already at work building on its success – not just in the Syria conflict, but beyond its borders too.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has posted 20,000 troops on the Syrian border to seal it off against the passage of Sunni and al Qaeda reinforcements for the Syria rebels. Iraqi commandoes are preparing to launch raids against al Qaeda-linked forces in eastern Syria. The Nusra Front, for instance, appears to have vanished from the battlefield and keeping a low profile.
Syria’s half million Druzes, sheltering away from the conflict in their mountain villages on Jebel Druze in the south, were given an ultimatum by Hizballah to proclaim their loyalty to Bashar Assad or face attack.
Hizballah aggression against the Syrian Druzes would have major connotations for the community in Lebanon and its leader, Walid Jumblatt. On the other hand, if Syrian Druzes threw in their lot with the Assad regime, the Druzes of Lebanon would be forced to line up with Iran’s proxy. This realignment would counteract the Syrian rebels’ threat to strike Hizballah strongholds inside Lebanon. And these shifts would leave the Druze villagers on the Israeli Golan few options but to line up with the rest.
Unnoticed by Israel, the long arm of the Syrian war has reached deep into the Gaza Strip. Its Palestinian Hamas rulers lost no time in jumping on the winning bandwagon. A delegation is already in Tehran waiting to plead for a new military cooperation pact.
Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal faced heavy pressure to turn away from their ties with Turkey and Qatar and renew the military pact Hamas signed with Iran and Hizballah in September 2012
The pressure came from Marwan Issa, deputy commander of Hamas’s military wing, the Ezz a-din al-Qassam Brigades – who fled the Gaza Strip after Israel’s Pillar of Defense operation against Hamas rockets, and stayed in Tehran ever since – and Mahmoud a-Zahar, who lost the politburo slot to Meshaal.
Thursday June 6, the Hamas military wing suddenly issued a declaration of allegiance to Iran and Hizballah.
Hamas is in desperate need of a new patron and even more of cash. Turkey and Qatar have cut off funds to the radical Palestinian movement and so its rulers, with the al Qusayr victory resounding strongly in their ears, turned back to Tehran and Hizballah to beg for funding to buy rockets.
This side-effect of the Syrian war and Hizballah’s successful role there is bad news for Israel. Back under the thumb of Iran and its proxy, Hamas is more than likely to scrap its ceasefire deal with Israel after nine months of rocket-free border calm, in its eagerness to rejoin the winning side of the Syrian war.
This would be a strategic slap in the face for Israel and the Obama administration, which helped broker the ceasefire last year, and a major hurdle in the path of US Secretary of State John Kerry and his hard work for reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace track.
With two anti-Israel warfronts looming on the Golan and the Gaza Strip, no Palestinian Authority figure, including Mahmoud Abbas, would venture to sit down with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
The Syrian-Hizballah victory in Qusayr exposed the hollowness of the US-European-Israeli posture of non-intervention in the Syrian conflict. While all three backed away from confirming the outbreak of chemical warfare in Syria, aside from empty threats, Moscow, Tehran and Baghdad managed to repair the inroads made on Assad’s military power by two and-a-quarter years of hard fighting, and fashion a combined Syrian-Hizballah fighting machine capable of crushing the Syrian uprising.
Having proved its mettle in an epic victory, the Syrian-Hizballah partnership confronts Israel, Jordan and the US forces posted there with plans to follow up in its success in two stages: First, to conquer Aleppo and southern Syria and clear them of rebels; second, to use the Golan as a jumping-off base to face Israel on the battlefield.
Already, their campaign to seize the town of Quneitra on the Syrian side of Golan has begun. The roar of gunfire and shells heard distinctly in Israel Thursday, June 6, told Israel’s war leaders in no uncertain terms that the war front against Hizballah had shifted from southern Lebanon to the Golan.