Policy Brief

Hezbollah’s Campaign in Arsal: Contested Success for Lebanon

The continuous civil war in Syria exacerbated long-lasting cleavages in Lebanon and therefore the country faces numerous internal and external challenges. Although Arsal has just re-become headlines in the newspapers for couple of weeks, this is not the first time that Syrian armed groups face off with the Lebanese Army and Hezbollah in Arsal, the northeastern border town. The recent military campaign of Hezbollah remind us again the strategic importance of Arsal despite its isolation and backwardness and re-opened the tense discussions among the Lebanese confessional groups. With only a weak army and a fragile balance of power built upon many confessional groups, Hezbollah’s attack put the Lebanese government in an untenable position. It is also an obvious fact that despite all the military aid it receives, the Lebanese Army was inert to the situation in Arsal, which has also been a challenge for its sovereignty. Irrespective of the dilemmas of the situation, however, Hezbollah’s campaign without the real supervision of the government demonstrates the complete surrender of the state to Hezbollah’s agenda which is within the sphere of Iranian influence.