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

Jan. 31 2022

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

Iran’s Four-Decade Strategy to Envelope Israel in Terror

Yesterday, the head of the Shin Bet—Israel’s internal security service—was in Washington meeting with officials from the State Department, CIA, and the White House itself. Among the topics no doubt discussed are rising tensions with Iran and the possibility that the latter, in order to defend its nuclear program, will instruct its network of proxies in Gaza, the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria, and even Iraq and Yemen to attack the Jewish state. Oved Lobel explores the history of this network, which, he argues, predates Iran’s Islamic Revolution—when Shiite radicals in Lebanon coordinated with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s movement in Iran:

An inextricably linked Iran-Syria-Palestinian axis has actually been in existence since the early 1970s, with Lebanon the geographical fulcrum of the relationship and Damascus serving as the primary operational headquarters. Lebanon, from the 1980s until 2005, was under the direct military control of Syria, which itself slowly transformed from an ally to a client of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The nexus among Damascus, Beirut, and the Palestinian territories should therefore always have been viewed as one front, both geographically and operationally. It’s clear that the multifront-war strategy was already in operation during the first intifada years, from 1987 to 1993.

[An] Iranian-organized conference in 1991, the first of many, . . . established the “Damascus 10”—an alliance of ten Palestinian factions that rejected any peace process with Israel. According to the former Hamas spokesperson and senior official Ibrahim Ghosheh, he spoke to then-Hizballah Secretary-General Abbas al-Musawi at the conference and coordinated Hizballah attacks from Lebanon in support of the intifada. Further important meetings between Hamas and the Iranian regime were held in 1999 and 2000, while the IRGC constantly met with its agents in Damascus to encourage coordinated attacks on Israel.

For some reason, Hizballah’s guerilla war against Israel in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s was, and often still is, viewed as a separate phenomenon from the first intifada, when they were in fact two fronts in the same battle.

Israel opted for a perilous unconditional withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, which Hamas’s Ghosheh asserts was a “direct factor” in precipitating the start of the second intifada later that same year.

Read more at Australia/Israel Review

More about: First intifada, Hizballah, Iran, Palestinian terror, Second Intifada