ISIS Claims Bombing of Hezbollah in Beirut

isisA pair of bombings by suicide-vest occurred in a Hezbollah-controlled section of Beirut. Among the 45 dead was a senior Hezbollah security official, Hajj Hussein Yaari (Abu Murtada). Another 200 people were wounded. ISIS called the attack “a quality operation in the heart of a Hezbollah stronghold,” and said “the heretics must know that they do not threaten us.” This internecine sectarian dispute is the real war being fought in the region. The Russians, NATO and other outsiders are merely supporting actors. The fight between Shi’ite and Sunni terrorists is one best avoided by everyone.

Israel National News reports, “Hajj Hussein Khalil, a senior aide to Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, arrived at the scene of the attack and said, ;this is a crime against humanity. Those who committed it are monsters, not humans’.” INN insightfullly added, “Ironically Hezbollah is considered to be one of the first terror groups to use tactical suicide bombings, having launched such brutal attacks back in the early 1980s.”

The Islamic world is divided between the Sunni and Shi’ite sects and has been for centuries. Today, though, the religious split is the basis for the tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. However, there is more to the dispute than religion. The cultural differences between Persia and Arab civilization extend back far beyond the birth of Islam. The conflict amounts to a contest over which will be the regional top-dog.

Yet both Tehran and Riyadh understand that a direct war would be a losing proposition for both sides. Thus, proxies become the tool of choice. Hezbollah has been the instrument of Iranian influence since the founding of the group. ISIS, while not directly tied to the Saudi regime, grew out of the Wahhabi version of Sunni Islam that the Saudis have funded for decades.

It is difficult to see how this ends save by complete exhaustion on both sides. The motivation of martyrdom creates a willing corps of terrorists on both sides willing to fight no matter how long the odds. Moreover, there is some serious doubt over whether the proxies can be controlled by their puppet-masters. If Iran and Saudi Arabia decide to diffuse the situation, one cannot be sure that Hezbollah and ISIS would listen, the latter more so than the former because it has an independent oil source.

For Russia, this is a serious problem. Hezbollah is in the Iranian camp as is Syria, Russia’s client in the Arab world. The Russians are not going to be able to de-escalate the situation, and indeed, it may prove that Mr. Putin believes his interests demand even greater Russian military force in the Middle East.

For the US and NATO, the problem is also considerable, but it isn’t one that demands action. There is something to be said for letting Hezbollah and ISIS go after one another. “The enemy of my enemy is also my enemy” seems to be the apt variation on regional adage. Intelligence gathering to ensure that their citizens are as safe as possible is vital, but actual military action other than air strikes are of doubtful utility.

In the meanwhile, the civilians in the region will continue to be the main victims. Something ought to be done to protect them, but it is a case that no one who actually can do that has any interests in doing it. Those nations, like the US, that may want to protect them, don’t really have the capacity to be effective in aiding them.

It is sad that this is happening, and sadder still that it happened in Beirut. Lebanon’s Civil War ran for about 15 years. Anyone predicting how long the ISIS-Hezbollah fight will go on would be on firm ground picking that figure again.