As violence in neighboring Syria escalates, many observers are left wondering whether Syria will put to effect its threat to use chemical weapons, and further to that, whether those weapons will find their ways to its allies. This week, the Syrian rebels reported that chemical weapons had in fact been moved to the Syrian borders in an effort to threaten the international community. While the arsenal is shrouded with mystery, an international outcry against such a threat forced the Syrian regime to backtrack on its statements.
Israel immediately threatened to take action should the arsenal or missiles be transferred to Hezbollah. This was the second time Israel threatens Hezbollah and Iran in less than two weeks. Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Hezbollah of being involved in the murder of five Israeli tourists in Bulgaria.
The attacks and threats come at a time of heightened tensions in the region. While Hezbollah commemorates the sixth anniversary of the July war with Israel, it continues to stand by the Syrian regime for its "support for the resistance" and has claimed that it would surprise Israel in the "opening of a future war." Likewise, Iran has been facing increasing pressure on its nuclear program and is losing a strategic regional ally, Syria. Observers argue that its attacks on Israeli targets may have come in retaliation to Israel's alleged assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists last January. Although Israel denied involvement, it has returned the threats and characterized the situation as an "open war" by Iran.
While most observers rule out the possibility of an Israel-Iran conflict, talk of a potential war has intensified in both Washington and the region. Indeed, the past months have been characterized by a covert war of sorts, with attempted attacks on Israeli nationals in Bulgaria, Turkey, Cyprus, Azerbaijan and Thailand - all foiled by military agents. Israel has not acted on these attacks, which officially remain anonymous, with Iran and Hezbollah denying their involvement. Furthermore, in reaction to this week's news on Syria's chemical arsenal, Israel's defense ministry has confirmed that such chemical weapons will most likely remain under the tight control of the Syrian regime and that Hezbollah does not possess such weapons. However, any move towards arming Hezbollah, or a further attack on Israeli targets may spark a regional conflict, and Hezbollah is not likely to sit idly by.
Lebanon is yet again caught in the midst of it all, despite its will. Hezbollah is struggling on various fronts: it is trying to keep a semblance of domestic stability, support its ally in Syria and maintain calm at the southern border. Any deterioration into a civil, or external, war may severely undermine its credibility and capacity to maintain control across the country. However, the question of its role in a potential future war still looms. The Lebanese have expressed their frustration with the group's monopoly of decision-making on national matters like war and peace. Indeed, as the Iran war rhetoric escalates; the Syrian regime fights for survival; and Iran's nuclear time bomb ticks, many in Lebanon fear the potential repercussions of a conflict that even Hezbollah, unless it is careful, may be dragged into.