Newsweek quotes Rafik Hariri Center Resident Fellow Faysal Itani on what the growing threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham means for the US relationship with Hezbollah:
“In Lebanon, there is a regional and an American consensus to contain the conflict away from Lebanon and in Syria,” explains Faysal Itani, a Middle East expert at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C. “The Saudis have an interest in this, the Iranians do—everybody wants things to stay relatively quiet. If you want things to remain quiet in Lebanon, that means you work with the Lebanese army and Hezbollah, because those are the only capable forces on the ground. And given that the Lebanese army is willing and able to take on the Sunni jihadists, but has a very close and cooperative relationship with Hezbollah, then what you have happening is a de facto U.S.-Saudi-Lebanese-Hezbollah-Iranian collaboration in Lebanon.”
But the U.S.-Hezbollah relationship is rumored to go beyond arms shipments to sharing intelligence. Abbas Ibrahim, head of the General Security Directorate, Lebanon’s intelligence agency, is a Shiite, the same as Hezbollah’s membership. “I’ve heard specific cases of plots disrupted and militants captured based on intel shared between the United States, Iran and Saudi Arabia,” says Itani, the Lebanese son of a Sunni father and Christian mother. “I don’t imagine that this would take the form of direct contact between the CIA and Hezbollah,” he added. “I think this is something that would be shared with the Iranians” and then passed to Hezbollah.