Wednesday, August 04, 2021

  • Wednesday, August 04, 2021
  • Elder of Ziyon



Lebanon has been failing as a state for years, and in the past year its severe problems have been on the world stage with the explosion at the Beirut port and the incompetent government response. 

That has been only the most visible part of Lebanon's swift decline. A political deadlock has left Lebanon with a government has not been able to govern.  Hezbollah has veto power over anything it doesn't want. Even so, the terror group had built its own independent army that is more powerful than the Lebanese army, with an arsenal of 200,000 rockets in civilian areas.  Internal fighting still breaks out. Lebanon treats Palestinian refugees from Syria differently than other Syrian refugees. It's COVID response has been anemic. Its economy is in shambles as people cannot get basic goods.

This morning, rockets were fired from Lebanon into Israel. This has been the most serious such rocket fire, although it has not been the first one - there have been other rocket launches in recent months. Hezbollah is not behind them - Palestinian groups in Lebanon are. 

A wide assumption is that Hezbollah is the beneficiary of Lebanese chaos. It has better organization than most Lebanese political parties - and it has an army. This is probably true.

But the further assumption Hezbollah, and therefore Iran, would take over Lebanon itself is far less likely.

Alma, an Israeli thinktank that specializes in threats from the North, gave its latest analysis in its weekly newsletter yesterday:

The statement that Hezbollah is taking over Lebanon is vague and needs more clarification. Hezbollah will not be a sovereign government serving on behalf of the Iranians after officially, legally, and completely replacing the Lebanese government. 

Like Syria, Lebanon is made up of a variety of ethnic groups. There are areas in Lebanon like the Druze Chouf Mountains, the Sunni Tripoli in the north, or even Christian areas, that Hezbollah would not be able to enter easily. In any scenario in which "Hezbollah takes over Lebanon", with or without the defeat of the Lebanese army, there will be more chaos than order.

Like Syria, Lebanon is likely able to be divided into areas of influence and control of the various factions, local or foreign, while the central government becomes irrelevant. This is a reasonable scenario, in light of the images originating in Lebanon, that depict a shortage of food, fuel, and medicine. They depict an unending political crisis and a ruling elite that is in no hurry to solve the country's fundamental problems.

Lack of control and chaos also require a different approach on  Israel’s part - when negotiating on the maritime border, Israel cannot assume that it is dealing with a normal sovereign state. 

Israel has no influence over what is happening in Syria and Lebanon, and if it does have any influence, it is a very small amount and cannot prevent the collapse of these two countries. But the Israeli government has a greater responsibility than any other country in the world in anticipating the future and being prepared for continued instability in our neighboring countries.
Saying that Hezbollah will take over seems too simplistic.  However, Iran certainly benefits from a Lebanon in chaos and divided in sectarian sections, just as it has benefitted from Syrian and Iraqi chaos. It doesn't necessarily have to take over the country to achieve its goals of creating safe areas for its military and allied militants to act with impunity. 

In fact, just as in Gaza, governing is a distraction from Iran's goals. What would Hezbollah be able to achieve that it cannot do today? It already has near complete control of its own virtual state on the border with Israel. 

Hezbollah might be unable to rule Lebanon - but the alternative chaos may be even worse.








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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون



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