Hizballah’s Religious Cleansing of Lebanon, and How Loosening Sanctions on Iran Will Make It Worse

For centuries, the area now known as Lebanon has been home to Christians, Druze, and Sunni and Shiite Muslims, who have coexisted with varying degrees of tension. But the ever-growing dominance of the Iran-backed Shiite group Hizballah is contributing to a decline in the Christian population, one that mirrors the fate of Christians elsewhere in the Middle East. The situation is apt to deteriorate further, argues Alberto M. Fernandez, if American nuclear negotiators in Vienna offer Iran greater sanctions relief:

In Syria and Iraq, the ethnic cleansing happened under cover of war. But in Lebanon there is a silent, slow-motion ethnic cleansing happening before our eyes, driven by the economic crisis and benefitting Hizballah, the best funded (with hard currency from Iran) faction in Lebanon, while its local rivals are beggared. Such an operation will only accelerate should a new . . . nuclear deal be agreed to in Vienna between the United States and Iran. Ahead of any such deal, Iran and its proxies are already benefiting financially by decreased American pressure on the regime by the Biden administration.

Reducing the country’s Christian population is particularly significant for Hizballah. It is that population that traditionally has the most Western ties, and a part of that population once allied with Israel 40 years ago.

The new Lebanon that Hizballah is building with its cash, corruption, and its use of violence will be more homogenous and conformist than the country ever was. It will have fewer Christians, Sunnis, and Druze but also fewer Lebanese Shiites who are willing to stand up to [the Iran-backed terrorist group]. “Hizballah-land” will resemble in a way the “Fatah-land” that the Palestine Liberation Organization controlled in southern Lebanon in the 1970s, but on a broader and deeper scale. And just like the PLO used Lebanon to host like-minded revolutionaries from throughout the world, so Hizballah-controlled Lebanon—a reality that is almost complete—will serve as safe haven, training ground, and university for the terror and insurgent groups of tomorrow.

Read more at MEMRI

More about: Hizballah, Iran sanctions, Lebanon, Middle East Christianity, PLO


The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7