During the past year and especially the past few months, there has been good news in the international fight against terrorism. ISIS, Al Qaeda, and affiliated Sunni terrorist groups have been largely exterminated. The United States has virtually nothing to do with this. The terrorists were crushed on the battlefield by the Syrian army with a huge assist from the heroic military wing of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia organization that the United States calls a “terrorist organization.”
Thanks to the efforts of Bashar al-Assad’s government and Hezbollah, something resembling peace has returned to Damascus and to Beirut, where I have been visiting during the past week. ISIS and Al Qaeda — the main component of the pro-Western opposition to the Assad government despite the U.S. media’s absurd portrayal of the opposition as pro-Western “freedom fighters” — had promised that after they overthrew Assad, they would march into Beirut and deal with Hezbollah.
Happily, that is not what happened. Instead, Syria and Hezbollah teamed up to crush the Syrian opposition fighters. I was in Beirut this week and spent a lot of time in the predominantly Shia southern suburbs, where Hezbollah is extremely popular and where I have many friends.
Had Assad’s opponents tried to march into Beirut the Lebanese army would not have stopped them, because it is pitifully weak. For all intents and purposes, Hezbollah is Lebanon’s army and it would have been the only force capable of stopping the terrorists. Even now there are concrete barricades and checkpoints at every entrance into the southern suburbs because Assad’s opponents had sent car bombers into Beirut to attack Hezbollah areas.
I have many close friends in Hezbollah’s militia who have fought ISIS and Al Qaeda in Syria. One of them showed me a video on his phone of himself in Syria a few months back holding a gun and standing over a dead ISIS fighter he had killed. I shook his hand and thanked him and urged him to kill more.
The whole idea that the Syrian opposition was a force for democracy was always a farce, propagated by the U.S. government and the Western media. Back in 2016 I interviewed Jim Jatras here in Washington Babylon about the absurdity of this fairy tale.
Another thing that’s interesting about Hezbollah, and what clashes with the Western media portrayal of Hezbollah, is that the group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has supported religious and ethnic tolerance in Lebanon. About a decade ago, after Israel had bombed Lebanon, angry mobs threatened to destroy Beirut’s last synagogue. Nasrallah dispatched Hezbollah troops to protect it.
More recently, Nawaf Moussaoui, a Hezbollah member of parliament and the group’s former foreign minister — I interviewed him in 2005, during my first trip to Lebanon when I wrote a story for Harper’s called “Parties of God” — publicly attacked the country’s Christians. He was severely punished by Nasrallah — he’s basically been suspended from parliamentary duties for a year — who said that the last thing Lebanon needs is sectarian strife, especially when it faces constant threat from the belligerent Israeli military, which has invaded and bombed the country countless times, and from ISIS and Al Qaeda remnants.
(Note: I was interviewed earlier this week by Zeinab Al Saffar of the pan-Arab TV Almayadeen. I’ll post the link when the interview runs, inshallah, later this month.)
Meanwhile, I’m traveling outside Beirut at the moment but I’ll be returning to the city next week. On Tuesday, I am meeting my friends in the southern suburbs at a shisha joint to watch a Barcelona soccer game. I don’t like Barcelona much now that Neymay doesn’t play for the team anymore, but that should be a fun evening.
And soon after that, inshallah, I’ll travel to Damascus, a city I have long dreamed of visiting.