The Huffington Post quotes Rafik Hariri Center Resident Fellow Faysal Itani on Hezbollah’s role in the Syrian conflict and closer cooperation between the United States and the Lebanese military:
It was “one of the more transparent incidents of … cooperation” between Hezbollah and the Lebanese army, said Faysal Itani, a fellow at the Atlantic Council who studies Lebanon.
“Were it not for Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria,” Itani said, “I don’t believe Lebanon would be a priority for these groups at all — at least not for now.”
As long as Hezbollah continues to back Assad and remains a target for the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, however, the Lebanese army will be hard-pressed to defend its borders without Hezbollah, Itani added.
“The best way to prepare the LAF for what will be an inevitable showdown [with Hezbollah] is to instill a confidence, independence, and esprit de corps at the institutional and individual levels in the LAF,” Itani said, referring to the Lebanese Armed Forces. “That said, this is admittedly a risky strategy that could backfire, but the alternative of leaving the LAF to its own devices is even more likely to empower Hezbollah.”