On July 8, during the arrival of the U.S. central command chief Kenneth McKenzie to Beirut, 200 protestors gathered next to the airport to protest American intervention in the country at a time when Lebanon is facing the harsh consequences of the economic pressure applied by the U.S. in efforts to dismantle Hezbollah. Protestors from many parties that were known to fight U.S. and Israeli attacks in Lebanon and the region were present; the Democratic Communist party, Syrian Socialist Nationalist party, Hezbollah, Haraket Al Shaaeb, and an unusual black flag with a logo consisting the Arabic letter “ض” that isn’t common in Lebanese protests. After investigating it turned out to belong to the Arab national guard, a militia established in 2012 during the Syrian civil war and is currently fighting along with Hezbollah and the Syrian Army. The origins of this militia are a bit blurry.
Its founder Assad Hammoud who is called “Zoulfikar Al Aamili” is Lebanese national from Kfarmelki in Southern Lebanon and he is the , son of Abou Hussein Ahmad Hamoud who goes by “Haydar Al Aamili” and who founded the Arab Nationalist youth and co-founded the Arab Nationalist League. Assad Hammoud has strong ties with Hezbollah’s head of security Wafic Safa and has strong ties with Pro-Assad Lebanese figures such as Sheikh Maher Hammoud, General Jamil el Sayed, and the head of the Nassarist People’s movement Oussama Saad known as “Abou Maarouf”. Also he has strong links with Palestinian organizations such as the Popular front for the liberation of Palestine and the Islamic Jihad Movement. Some reports say that he frequently travels between Tunisia, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon and is wanted by Lebanese intelligence since he is involved militarily in the Syrian war. Hammoud considered the Lebanese stating placing him on its wanted list as a declaration of war and vowed that he will response militarily.
The militia has members from across the Arab world (Lebanon, Algeria, Tunisia, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Jordan, and Libya) and has many members that participated in the Iraqi war, Syrian civil war, and the Libyan war. It has several squadrons spread across Syria that fought alongside the Syrian Arab Army and Hezbollah mostly in rural Damascus, Hama, and Daraa. The movement took over some neighborhoods in Damascus after fighting terrorist organizations and the Syrian opposition. As many claims the movement to be under direct influence from Iran and Hezbollah’s Assad Hammoud stated in an interview with Sputnik that they are in a strategic alliance with Hezbollah, SSNP, and other movements however they get direct support from the Syrian Arab Army and financial support from members of the Arab nationalist movement. Their movement’ presence across the Arab world which gave it exposure in several countries.
The militia came in several headlines after its participation in the Syrian civil war however it wasn’t widely known as much as other foreign militias participating in the Syrian conflict. However, why has the movement showed its face in Lebanon during this protest for the first time ? Will it be part of a potential conflict with Israel? Can Lebanon still face the consequences of being part of military interventions in the region ? too many questions that time will explain but for now let’s note that a new player has entered the arena.