However, Hezbollah’s performance to date suggests that the Iranians may be holding a much weaker hand than they let on. If the Party of God is trounced by the Syrian rebels, what does that say of Hezbollah’s ability to make war on Israel?

One issue of course is that Hezbollah is not accustomed to this kind of combat. Typically the party of God fights guerilla wars on its own terrain, where it not only knows every inch of the territory, but is also able to melt into the civilian population whose support it can count on. With Qusayr, Hezbollah finds itself on unfamiliar ground and having trouble mounting an offensive, as this sound recording of Hezbollah fighters at Qusayr in apparent disarray shows.

Hezbollah has come under heavy criticism throughout the Middle East, especially in Lebanon and even its own Shia community, for making war on Syrians and thereby showing that the banner of resistance against Israel was merely a ruse. With Qusayr, Hezbollah has dropped all pretense of “resistance” and is instead an occupying force—and one subject to the same sorts of tactics, including ambushes, it normally employs against Israel. Hezbollah’s failures as an expeditionary force are a significant problem, as Badran explains, because the organization has let on that in the next round with the IDF it will go on the offensive and infiltrate northern Israel. Qusayr may well give Iran second thoughts about taking the fight to the enemy.