“As long as the reasons remain, our presence there will remain,” Mr. Nasrallah told thousands of his followers.“Our fighters are present on Syrian soil to confront all the dangers it faces from the international, regional and takfiri attack on this country and region,” Mr. Nasrallah declared, according to news reports, referring in part to the extremist Sunni Muslim fighters aligned with Al Qaeda who have joined the attempt to overthrow Mr. Assad.…He also said that Hezbollah, the dominant force in Lebanese politics, would not yield to demands from political rivals to pull out of Syria as a condition for resolving the impasse that has left Lebanon drifting under a caretaker government. He told his audience he would not trade what he termed an existential fight in Syria for seats in the Lebanese cabinet.
Any faint hope John Kerry has for peacefully negotiating an end to the Syrian bloodbath wilts a little more with developments like this. But, as always, the real story here is Iran. Nasrallah’s comments will harden French, Saudi and Israeli opposition to anything that puts more money into the hands of Tehran. Hezbollah’s continuing vitality and significant role in a major international crisis is a sign that, despite sanctions, Iran is successfully keeping and even tightening its grip on Syria and Lebanon. It’s also a sign that Iran remains committed to a strategic alliance with what is widely recognized as a terrorist organization.The chips are not falling like the White House would like. All three pillars of the Obama administration’s newly reformed Middle East strategy look to be in some early trouble.[Image of Hassan Nasrallah courtesy of Wikimedia]