Abdallah Azzam Brigades (AAB) – An Al-Qaida affiliated group that carries the name of Abdallah Azzam, a.k.a. The Father Of Global Jihad – launched two rockets on an Israeli town, and in response, the Israeli Army attacks the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC) in Nehmeh south of Beirut.
That’s me, 3 months ago. Back then, we all heard about this mysterious Abdallah Azzam Brigades launching rockets on the Israeli town. The Israelis responded by attacking a pro-Syrian regime party. Yesterday, the same Al-Qaida affiliated group claimed responsibility for the twin suicide bombings against the Iranian embassy.
Three Different Reactions
For the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis, this is very awkward. Iran decided to blame Israel for the bombings while Syria’s government said that the “attacks reek of petrodollars” – in other words accusing the gulf monarchies of the twin blasts. As for Hezbollah, an official of theirs at the site of the explosion said it was a message of blood and death to Iran and Hezbollah for standing by Syria, vowing they would not change their position.
While we are used to such accusations towards Israel in (sadly) similar circumstances, there are some surprising reactions this time. Syria is accusing Saudi-Arabia of being responsible, which is something rather new in Syria’s foreign policy in Lebanon. On the other side of the axis, Iran and Hezbollah kept a usual tone, with Hezbollah staying rather silent, and Iran pointing the finger to Israel with no direct or indirect reference to the west.
Three Different Contexts
Iran is heading this week to the nuclear negotiations in Geneva, and the blasts can used positively by the Rouhani administration. The rise of a mutual enemy, Al-Qaida, in a country that was for decades mainly under the west and Iran’s influence is a good reason for the two countries to work together. The proof? David Cameron called Rouhani yesterday and became the first U.K. prime minister to do that in a decade. And the nuclear negotiations weren’t apparently the only thing they spoke of. The embassy blasts were also included in the conversation.
For Syria, Saudi-Arabia’s military and financial support to the rebels is no longer a matter of local affair. The S/S (Saudi-Syria) equation that once administrated Lebanese politics is history. The more Saudi-Arabia grows its influence in Syria, the more Bashar Al-Assad will play his cards in Lebanon and diminish the Saudi influence in the neighboring country, starting by an escalated propaganda war against Saudi-Arabia. To accuse Saudi-Arabia of working against the “resistance” is something quite normal these days, but to blame them for a suicide bombing on an embassy is something far worse, and a very important change of discourse that is nevertheless not very surprising. We’re witnessing an unprecedented diplomatic crisis between the countries of the Middle East, and Lebanon is a natural playground for foreign powers. Iran and the U.S. are getting closer, Syria is on fire, and practically everyone – in a way or another – is now involved in Syria. The battles in Syria’s Qalamoun along with the blurry diplomatic alliances are the reasons behind Hezbollah’s cautious response and accusations regarding the blasts.
Abdallah Azzam Brigades
AAB’s founding father , Salih al-Qar’awi, was arrested by the Saudis and the AAB is known for having anti-regime stances in Saudi-Arabia. In Lebanon, the AAB launched several times rockets at Israel and recently attacked the Iranian embassy. In Syria the group is involved in the insurgency against Bashar Al-Assad. Unlike the Tripoli bombings and the southern suburb’s August bombings, the two attacks against the embassy were suicide attacks which is kind of new to Lebanon. the AAB are clearly adopting a new strategy, and seem non affiliated (till now) to any foreign country, since they are launching attacks against everyone. So funnily enough, unlike the August bombings, no country is apparently (directly) involved in the embassy bombings, but everyone is using the blasts to reinforce his position.
Once again Lebanon is a mailbox. But this time, the mail is not the explosions per se, but the type of reactions and the accusations that followed the blasts.