The northern city of Tripoli has been the scene of demonstrations between pro- and anti-Assad supporters in the past months as well as occasional skirmishes between pro-Syria Alawite and anti-Syria Sunni groups in Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen, reflecting the political and sectarian split in Lebanon over the unrest in neighboring Syria.
Kiwan said if the regime in Syria collapses, Hezbollah will definitely escalate its political position.
"Syria is Hezbollah's first defense line. If this line collapses, Hezbollah will adopt a tougher attitude toward the Lebanese state, the [March 14] opposition, the international tribunal and the tribunal's indictment," she said. "It will be a defensive-offensive position."
"Hezbollah is directly concerned with stability in Syria. The party will not wait for the collapse of the regime in Syria to act," Kiwan said.
A Hezbollah M.P. and an official, contacted by The Daily Star, both refused to comment on how the party would react to the possibility of a change in government in Syria.
Atrissi said Hezbollah will be a loser from a possible regime change in Syria, but it will not begin the escalation.
"If the Assad regime collapses, Hezbollah will be in a worrisome and embarrassing position, especially with regard to the resistance.
The Syrian regime is currently providing Hezbollah with all kinds of political, military and moral support. Such support will not be secure under a new government, especially if it is backed by the United States," said Atrissi, a lecturer at the state-run Lebanese University.
"Hezbollah will not initiate the escalation. But if the other [March 14] parties decided to escalate the situation in order to achieve political gains over the collapse of the current Syrian government Hezbollah will respond with a similar escalation, which will subsequently destabilize the security situation," Atrissi said.
Hezbollah is facing two tough challenges: A possible government change in Syria and the U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), which has indicted four Hezbollah members in the 2005 killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Hezbollah has denied any involvement in Rafik Hariri's assassination.
Hezbollah officials have accused the opposition's Western-backed March 14 parties of counting on the collapse of Assad's government as well as the STL's indictment to weaken the party's popularity at home and tarnish its image in the Arab world.
Since the popular upheaval began in Syria in mid-March, Hezbollah officials have refrained from commenting on the fast-moving dramatic developments there. This was in sharp contrast with the party's stance which publicly praised and encouraged the popular revolts in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen and Bahrain.
Hezbollah has already suffered badly by the Syrian uprising for adopting the Syrian regime's official line in blaming the unrest on armed extremist gangs and outside agitators. Angry Syrian protesters have torn down and burned Hezbollah's pictures, according to images posted on YouTube.
Analysts say Hezbollah, a key player in the new government formed in June, was in a bind given the platform on which it has built support as a defender of the peoples' rights, freedom and a resistance leader.
The party has come under harsh criticism for backing the Arab Spring everywhere except Syria.
Most Popular Stories
- 2014 World Cup Official Noisemakers Quieter than Vuvuzelas
- Networks Vie for U.S. Hispanic TV Viewers
- Ad Counts Rise in 2013 for Hispanic Magazines
- Saab Gets Back into the Game; U.S. Auto Sales Soar
- Dell Offers Undisclosed Number of Employee Buyouts
- Apple Activates Customer-Tracking iBeacon
- Authorities Close to Deal with JPMorgan Chase over Madoff Response
- 2013 Tech Gift Guide: iPad Mini Still Hot; Chromecast a Great Low-Cost Option
- It's No Yolk: Food-tech Startups Take Aim at Replacing Eggs
- A Biography of Jonathan Ive, Apple's Creative Chief