Hizballah Is the Major Force behind Lebanon’s Crisis

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.

Read more at Philos Project

More about: Arab democracy, Hizballah, Lebanon

Ordinary Gazans Are Turning against Hamas—and Its Western Sympathizers

In the past few days, difficult-to-confirm reports have emerged of unrest in the Gaza Strip, and of civilians throwing stones at Hamas operatives. A recent video from Al Jazeera showed a Gazan declaring that “God will bring Qatar and Turkey to account” for the suffering of Palestinians in the current war. Being an agent of the Qatari government, the journalist turned away, and then pushed the interviewee with his hand to prevent him from getting near the microphone. Yet this brief exchange contributes much to the ongoing debate about Palestinian support for Hamas, and belies the frequent assertion by experts that the Israeli campaign is only “further radicalizing” the population.

For some time, Joseph Braude has worked with a number of journalists and researchers to interview ordinary Gazans under circumstances where they don’t fear reprisals. He notes that the sorts of opinions they share are rarely heard in Western media, let alone on Al Jazeera or Iran-sponsored outlets:

[A] resident of Khan Younis describes how locals in a bakery spontaneously attacked a Hamas member who had come to buy bread. The incident, hardly imaginable before the present war, reflects a widespread feeling of “disgust,” he says, after Gazan aspirations for “a dignified life and to live in peace” were set back by the Hamas atrocities of October 7.

Fears have grown that this misery will needlessly be prolonged by Westerners who strive, in effect, to perpetuate Hamas rule, according to one Gazan woman. Addressing protesters who have taken to the streets to demand a ceasefire on behalf of Palestinians, she calls on them to make a choice: “Either support the Palestinian people or the Hamas regime that oppresses them.” If protesters harbor a humanitarian motive, she asks, “Why don’t we see them demonstrating against Hamas?”

“Hamas is the destruction of the Palestinian people. We’ve had enough. They need to be wiped out—because if they remain, the people will be wiped out.”

You can watch videos of some of the interviews by clicking the link below.

Read more at Free Press

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian public opinion