The increasing involvement of Hezbollah fighters in the Syrian civil war adds a new dimension to an already cancerous conflict. Hezbollah has a vested interest in keeping Assad in power but they must consider what a prolonged conflict would do to them as a force. Hezbollah has been in a cold war (most of the time) with Israel since the 2006 conflict. By siphoning fighters off to fight in Syria there is the risk they may become weaker over time.
The Lebanon Factor
The chaos in Syria has had the effect of heightening simmering tension in neighboring Lebanon. With Hezbollah fighters crossing the border the lines may blur even further. There have already been cross border clashes. Hezbollah’s involvement may exacerbate the situation. The very nature of the Syrian conflict is sectarian and has done nothing to alleviate the Sunni Shia divide in the region. During Lebanon’s civil war (1975-1990) the country became a proxy war ground for Shia Iran and other Sunni state. Ironically this is what gave rise to Hezbollah in the first place. The situation in Syria is similar but on a grand scale. Lebanon risks being thrown into this conflict and in doing so, opening up the sectarian passions that never really calmed since the end of its civil war. Lebanon’s government and armed forces are no match for Hezbollah and its Iranian backers.
Although the Hezbollah fighters are crossing into Syria this may be a sign of the escalating spillover to come.