Axis of Resistance: The Hezbollah-Iran-Syria Relationship

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Tehran likes to style the alliance between itself, Hezbollah, and the Assad regime in Syria as the core of an “Axis of Resistance.” The name tries to evoke the strength of will to confront, if not overthrow, foreign occupiers and oppressors—that is Israel and the United States—by Iran and its regional partners and proxies. Hezbollah has been the most active and effective anti-Israel and anti-U.S. participant in this Iranian and Syrian supported resistance since the group’s formation in the early 1980s.

Another definition of resistance, however, is a measure of the difficulty a power source faces in forcing electric current through a circuit. In other words, the amount of power lost or wasted in an endeavor. Amid the continuing chaos in Syria, this second meaning may be more relevant to describing the transitions within the relationship among these three allies, especially Hezbollah.  For Washington, a dissipation of Hezbollah’s power is, at best, a mixed blessing because, as Daniel Byman of Brookings has pointed out, the group is one of the Islamic State’s most formidable foes and is a barrier to Syria’s violence spreading to a vulnerable Lebanon.

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