Hizballah Is the Major Force behind Lebanon’s Crisis

Sept. 9 2020

In an in-depth examination of Lebanon’s history, and the current predicament in which it finds itself, Habib Malik argues that this small nation has the potential to return to its former peace and prosperity. To Malik, the country’s strengths lie in its human capital and its traditions of religious tolerance, its weaknesses in “an ingrained tribal-clannish feudal-like power structure within its sect-based communities.” Lebanon also faces a much more immediate problem:

Standing behind most of [the current economic and political] disintegration and protecting the culprits is Hizballah, which has steadily transformed Lebanon into an advanced military platform serving a country, Iran, with an ideology utterly alien to most Lebanese. In knee-jerk fashion, Hizballah regularly hurls at its critics hollow-ringing accusations of treason and “Zionist collaboration.” At the terrorist group’s hands, Lebanon has been transformed into a failing pariah state. . . . It has persistently prevented . . . governments from instituting any meaningful reforms required by the international community before they can help Lebanon stand on its feet economically and financially.

Hizballah’s strategy is to plunge Lebanon into utter destitution so that China can then throw the exhausted Lebanese people a lifeline, thereby steadily wrenching the collapsed country away from its natural Western-Arab orientation towards Syria, Iran, and China.

For 30 years at least, Lebanon and the Lebanese have been subjected to organized corruption and grand larceny from the very top of the political totem pole. . . . These same culprits . . . stood silent for the past six years as the deadly ammonium nitrate languished in a hangar in Beirut’s port waiting to go off and precipitate utter tragedy for the innocents of the city. . . . Then there are those who first brought in the alleged 2,750 tons of lethal chemicals with the clear intent to have them weaponized in stages over time for their own purposes oblivious of the danger in which this was placing Lebanon’s capital and its people.

To break free of the destructive cycle that has brought it to this point, Malik proposes replacing the present political system with “bottom-up and constitutionally grounded federalism” that protects minorities.

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Read more at Philos Project

More about: Arab democracy, Hizballah, Lebanon

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy