Hizballah’s Influence Now Pervades Every Aspect of the Lebanese Government

July 18 2019

Following the most recent Lebanese elections, the Iran-backed terrorist group Hizballah was able to join a coalition of parties that together controls 74 of the parliament’s 128 seats, and nineteen of 30 cabinet positions. At the same time, the organization has entrenched its allies and clients in the state bureaucracy, the military, and the internal security forces. Jonathan Spyer explains the consequences:

Hizballah is the senior partner [in the coalition] because it can bring to the table assets that [other members] don’t have, and against which they have no answer—namely, the financial and military sponsorship of Iran and specifically of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. . . . The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) on paper are larger than Hizballah and possess an air and naval capacity. In practice, however, Hizballah is a more cohesive and united force than the LAF, which is riven by sectarian divisions.

[But] the issue of note is the evidence of cooperation between the two forces, and penetration by Hizballah of the LAF. . . . The unwillingness of Hizballah to grant the defense ministry to its rivals demonstrates the importance the organization attaches both to controlling the official military from above while also matching it for strength and penetrating it. This has largely been achieved. . . .

The formal bodies and instruments of state—armed forces, internal security organizations, legislative and executive bodies, etc.—continue to exist. But a reality has emerged in which none of these can conceivably be mustered against the wishes of Hizballah, because Hizballah has inserted itself into these bodies themselves, and/or into the structures that command them—usually a combination of both. This has led to a situation in which Hizballah, which long constituted a kind of shadow quasi-state alongside the official state, has now effectively swallowed up the official state, and its will now constitutes the final authority, against which there is no appeal, in Lebanon.

The result is that it is impossible today in key areas of Lebanese life to determine exactly where the official state begins and Hizballah’s shadow state ends. The latter has penetrated and taken up residence in the former. . . . These today serve both as a protective camouflage for Hizballah and as the organs responsible for carrying out those secondary functions in which Hizballah and its patrons have no interest, and which do not affect the fundamental question of power.

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Read more at Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Lebanon

With Talk of Annexation, Benny Gantz Sends a Message to the U.S.

Jan. 24 2020

On Tuesday, the former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, who is campaigning for a third time to oust Benjamin Netanyahu from the Israeli premiership, announced that if elected he will seek to annex the Jordan Valley. He added the important caveat that he wants to do so “in coordination with the international community”—a promise that, as many have pointed out, is nearly impossible to fulfill. While it is easy to speculate about the political calculations behind this pledge, Jonathan Tobin suggests that it is also intended as a message to American liberals:

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Read more at JNS

More about: Benny Gantz, Democrats, Israeli Election 2020, Jordan Valley, U.S. Politics