A year after a catastrophic explosion tore through Beirut, killing over 200 people and causing untold property damage, no one has been held accountable—although there is little doubt that Hizballah was responsible for the accident. But the Iran-backed terrorist group remains more powerful in Lebanon than ever, even as the country sinks into economic and political collapse. Sean Durns examines how outside forces, eager to use this small state as a platform from which to attack Israel, helped contribute to the current predicament:
To regain credibility [after losing the Six-Day War], the Egyptian ruler Gamal Abdel Nasser began to boost Fatah, [a Palestinian guerrilla group], and its leader, Yasir Arafat. Soon, Arafat gained control of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), an umbrella group that Nasser had created in 1964 to coopt Palestinian nationalism for his own ends.
[In 1969], Nasser pressured Lebanon’s government to allow PLO operatives the use of Southern Lebanon. Unofficially known as the Cairo Agreement, the accord placed more than a dozen Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon under the control of the PLO. [When in 1970] the PLO lost Jordan as a primary base of operations, Arafat’s influence in Lebanon only grew. . . . The influx of Palestinians and the growing power of the PLO, whose coffers were filled with money from the oil-rich Gulf States and the Soviet Union, were contributing factors to the outbreak of civil war in Lebanon. The internecine conflict began in 1975 and lasted fifteen years, devastating the country.
[Moreover], in the 1970s the PLO helped train the nucleus of what was to become Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ (IRGC) Quds Force. This entity would soon birth Hizballah, [an] anti-Semitic terror group that, like the Quds Force and the PLO, sought the destruction of the Jewish state. Hizballah would gain in both power and popularity, launching attacks against the West and Israel. The terrorist organization would use its base in Lebanon to perpetuate and plan attacks, while simultaneously fighting with the Israel Defense Forces in Southern Lebanon.
In the four decades since its rise, Hizballah has taken a broken country and managed to make things even worse. Wars, state-sponsored crime, and misuse of copious amounts of international aid have followed. While the failure of Lebanon has many causes, it can fairly be said that anti-Semitism has played a key role in the country’s deterioration.