Friday, September 13, 2013

Is Assad the Perpetrator of the Dahieh Terrorism Blast?

Sam Bazzi, counterterrorism activist
Sam Bazzi
By Sam Bazzi

Is the Bashar al-Assad regime the culprit in the Rweiss, Dahieh, terrorism bombing? In the world of possibilities everything is possible, but one must ask what benefits does the Syrian regime reap from inflicting such serious harm to its staunch Shiite supporters in Lebanon?

Many war criminals are capable of anything, but would Assad attack his critical Shiite support base in Lebanon without first consulting with and getting consent from the Hezbollah leadership? If Assad did, then Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, and by extension the Iranian regime, are Assad's partners in this crime.

Nasrallah would not agree to such an attack on his ecosystem because of the religious Hurmah (Arabic: حرمة) factor: Under Shiite theological law, it is not permissible to harm "good" conforming Shiites under any circumstances. Now there is a precedent where Hezbollah (is thought to) have murdered innocent Shiites to achieve a major political objective: The horrendous terror blast that killed former Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri also caused the coincidental death of Shiite passersby. However, the Rweiss blast was meant to kill exactly Shiites, including Hezbollah operatives present at the targeted location at the time. The Khomeinist mullahs would not agree to such a carnage in their midst (at least under the present circumstances).

The other matter to note is that those who claimed responsibility for the blast called Nasrallah a "pig." The observers of Hezbollah know quite well that Nasrallah is literally a divine figure to the Khomeinists. They would not scorn him in this manner under any circumstances. If the blast was truly an inside job, there would be no need for its claimants to add such an insult to the devastating injury. It almost felt that the whole purpose of the bombing was to publicly demean Nasrallah in front of his adoring followers.

Besides the loss of lives and horrifying injuries inflicted on the Shiites in Rweiss, the disadvantages to Hezbollah, and by extension to its Iranian and Syrian allies, are many. The recent terrorism blasts in Dahieh have created a huge burden on the Hezbollah embracing environment. The Lebanese Shiites are now living under a heavy sense of fear. Business in their areas has slowed down considerably. The morale of many is down. Tension is very high.

May we say that the purpose of the blast could be for Hezbollah to falsely claim that the Takfiris are at the gate? Although it is not necessary to make such a point, this could have been easily achieved by setting off explosives near empty parking lots or inside vacant garages (perhaps manned by non-Shiite Syrian employees).

Could the Syrian regime have set off the Rweiss blast so that Hezbollah could implement wider self-security measures? Those who know Dahieh also know that de facto self-security has been there openly or in the shadows for decades now. And Hezbollah does not need permission from others in Lebanon to publicly secure Shiite (and even other) areas.

What advantages could Assad reap from a unilateral terror attack on Dahieh and the Lebanese Shiite community? Lebanon is already severely destabilized. Should Assad want to further undermine Lebanon, he can get serious results by terrorizing non-Shiite areas (which he allegedly did numerous times). In the absence of credible evidence to the contrary, it is not logical to allege that Assad could attack Hezbollah and its Shiite constituency because this is equivalent to claiming that Assad is self-destructing ― indeed, the sectarian alliance between Syria's Alawites and Lebanon's Shiite factions goes back to the early 1970's.

The conspiracy theories about an inside job in the Rweiss attack are shots in the dark and deflection propaganda. They are probably meant to toss dust in the face of the Hezbollah leadership and create a wedge between the average Shiite and the Assad regime ― a criminal entity that no one with a minimal sense of fairness should support.

The silence of Nasrallah about the Rweiss investigation could possibly be the calm before a sudden storm. Hezbollah is a very vengeful entity (to the point of heedlessness, e.g., the Burgas terrorism attack on Israeli tourists) and it is fair to say that it won't let the Rweiss attack go unanswered. (In fact, some may argue that we have already seen a response to the Rweiss bombing from the allies of Hezbollah in the subsequent terror blasts in Tripoli, Lebanon, and the chemical weapons attacks in the Ghoutas of Damascus.)

The Hezbollah blackout on the Rweiss investigation could be hiding a desire by Nasrallah and his henchmen to target with terrorism some key country or organization without claiming responsibility for the act. For instance, retaliation in a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) state. Or perhaps an air assault (with the help of Assad's Syrian Arab Army) against the remote Takfiri bases in Syria with the intent to apprehend those who may have been behind the Rweiss attack and bring them to one of Dahieh's numerous tunnels of tyranny…

Time might tell.