War on jihad on the border between Lebanon and Syria. The alliance between Beirut and Damascus changes the map of the Middle East

(To Giampiero Venturi)

Thirty years ago it would be unthinkable, but in the Near East everything is possible. As we write, the Lebanese regular army acts in parallel to Hezbollah on the border with Syria in the war against ISIS and against the rebels of 'HTS (Movement for the Liberation of the Levant), a cartel that brings together about twenty Sunni fundamentalist groups among which the former are predominant Al Qaeda

In the light of the common jihadist enemy, the data may not give rise to particular clamor, but in the context of internal equilibrium to the country of cedars, the passage is epochal.

Let's go step by step, starting with data on the field. 

The August 18 begins the campaign of the Lebanese army Dawn of the jurds aimed at freeing the terrorist presence in the north of the Bekaa Valley and the reliefs between Lebanon and Syria. The operation involves heavy vehicles, special wards and air forces.

In the month of July the same campaign between Syria and Northeast Lebanon had been undertaken by Hezbollah and the Syrian army, part of the great Syria reconquest offensive launched by Assad and allies (Iran and Russia) against the Sunni integralist outbreak.

The equation is elementary. The goal of the Allied allied Damascus Lebanese Shiite militia is essentially the same as that of the Beirut government: eradicating the pockets linked to 'ISIS and to Al Qaeda from all over the region.

International media are cautious about the news, pointing out the official statements by Beirut that there is no co-ordination between the Lebanese army and the Syrians, but there is no co-ordination with Hezbollah. The facts, however, are clear: Lebanon and Syria conduct the same war.


The Bekaa Valley, stitched between the greenery of coastal Lebanon and the arid of the inner regions leading to Damascus, is the cradle of Hezbollah. In the ancient city of Baalbeck, a plot of archeology, cinema and AK 47, the Beyrout jewels come in little. Here Hezbollah is the only voice present and recognized.

The most striking operations of the Lebanese army occurred at Raas Baalbeck, a distant 5 km from the city. Right here, Beirut soldiers threw terrorists up and raised the Spanish flag along with Lebanon as a tribute to the fallen of the Rambla in Barcelona. How to Tell the West Vibes: "We are those who fight terrorism ...".

To think this happened without the tacit consent (if not the direct support) of Hezbollah, it's ridiculous.

The war of Hezbollah against the "takfiri" of ISIS andHTS in these parts it is natural, a sort of need for survival for a region that has always seen Syria as a great mother. It is no coincidence that in Baalbeck there are more portraits of Assad than road signs.

The Bekaa Valley has for decades been the most anti-Israeli and anti-American of all the souls of Lebanon, a historic enemy of the Maronite Christian Falangist members who fled with Israel during the civil war.

But it is precisely on this point that the table is turned over. 

The current Lebanese President Michel Aoun was the symbol of that Lebanon who until the end of the civil war did not want to bend over to Syrian interference. Up to Cedar Revolution in 2005, a substantial slice of Lebanese Christians including factions linked to the Gemayel clan (of which Aoun was somehow godson), has always fought against the Syrian claim to make Lebanon a protectorate of Damascus. However, since 2008 things have changed. 

An important part of Lebanese Christian society has begun to look suspiciously of Sunni Muslims and no longer have the obsession of Hezbollah, party sponsored by Shiites in power in Syria and Iran.

Aoun, returning from the exile forced in time by the Syrians, visits Damascus where he meets Bashar Al Assad. The we were so hated becomes political friendship. The new Lebanese Patriotic Movement of Aoun shakes with Hezbollah and shares its strategic goal: to reduce Saudi (and hence Israeli) interference in the country. 

The war in Syria reveals this new balance that obviously does not appeal to everyone, indeed.

The first to shed the nose is Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Sunni and expression of clans linked to Saudi Arabia historically anti-Syrian and enemy of Hezbollah. However, the new course inaugurated by President Aoun seems to force him to bite the bullet: if the Phalangists in the civil war fought against the soldiers of Damascus which up to the 80s included the whole of Lebanon in the maps of Syria, today an entire sector of Lebanese society look away and yesterday's enemies become potential allies. In this regard and to make people understand how complex Lebanese politics is, it is worth tracing the distancing of Samir Geagea (leader of the Maronites of the Lebanese Forces) who instead continues his anti-Syrian policy in a sort of historical continuity without if and without but.

As mentioned, officially all is silent on the new dynamics. The links with Hezbollah, inserted by 2016 on the list of terrorists from the Arab League, can not come to the surface. Lebanon is a semi-presidential republic where the president shares executive power with the head of government. Institutional charges are confronted on the line of a fragile equilibrium, with nearby and distant powers. At present, the prevalence of the Shiites who are winning the war in Syria is evident.

What will happen, however, and whether this process will be solid we will understand it better in the coming months when Assad has expelled ISIS from Syria and the West will have to deal with a much more powerful Iran than ten years ago.

Aoun is old and it is impossible to predict what political legacy will survive him. However, the die is cast. Today's Lebanon is no longer that of the civil war of the 80s and the Shiite axis between the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, so opposed by America, Europe and Israel, is almost a fact.

(Photo: القوات المسلحة اللبنانية)

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