Lebanese call for Hezbollah to be dismantled

Area of Hezbollah's control in Lebanon

Area of Hezbollah's control in Lebanon

A very interesting editorial in Now Lebanon protests the domination of Hezbollah over both the Lebanese polity and the actual territory of South Lebanon and calls for its dismantling and disarming.  Such calls evoke an awakening wish for real democracy and a shaking-off of terrorist influence on a sovereign country which can only be a good thing.

President Michel Sleiman… has … identified… those weapons in the Palestinian camps held by the various factions, those held by all political parties in Lebanon’s towns and cities, and finally Hezbollah’s massive arsenal, most of which is in the south of the country and trained on Israel. The latter has been given a veneer of legitimacy by being earmarked for inclusion in the oft-discussed national defense strategy, a process that seeks to find ways “to benefit from Hezbollah’s arms, when to use them and for what purpose.”

Who is Sleiman trying to kid? The national defense strategy is a chimera, a function that allows the Party of God to maintain its weapons while appearing to side with reason and debate.

In the wake of the 2000 Israeli withdrawal, there had been suggestions that the party’s military know-how—personnel and materiel—could be absorbed under the army’s command. But that was before Hezbollah showed its true thuggish colors on the streets of Beirut in May 2008. …

There is no longer a need for a Resistance, and we must remove the myth and the paranoia surrounding calls for its disarmament.

There is no evidence of Israeli expansionist desires, save for the bogus “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a work that has been debunked … while the threat of military action is actually higher as long as Hezbollah remains armed, belligerent and threatening Israel’s northern border.

A third, more moderate, school would argue that having an armed militia running the show is not a perfect arrangement, but until the army is strong enough to defend Lebanon’s borders, there is no alternative.

There will never be a concerted move to strengthen the army as long as Hezbollah holds the reins of power in Lebanon. … The only recent offer of aid has been from Iran, the country that finances Hezbollah, which it sees as an extension of its armed forces.

To quote Prime Minister Najib Mikati in 2006, Hezbollah’s armed wing is a “cancer,” one that inhibits Lebanon’s progress as a genuine state with functioning institutions and which will one day metastasize and plunge the country or the region into war.

With the war drums beating over Iran, it may already be too late.

The views of this editorial are echoed in an earlier article in Now Lebanon entitled “Calling in favours” in which the editorial writer warns of Hezbollah’s dangerous propensity to involve Lebanon in regional wars, and asks that it give advance warning of any intention to get involved in a war on behalf of Iran.

Another side effect, a scenario on which almost everyone is agreed, is that an Israeli strike would draw an immediate military response from Iran’s regional proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah, with the latter expected to open up a front on Israel’s northern border. This in turn, we can safely assume, would draw an uncompromising response from the Israelis who, having been humiliated in the 2006 summer war, have made it clear that in the next “round” of fighting the gloves will come off, and the Lebanese government, now effectively run by Hezbollah, will, unlike in 2006, be held responsible for the act of aggression. Back then, with over 1,000 dead, 1 million displaced and billions of dollars in damage, the war was, in the famous words of Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, a “divine victory.” One shudders at the prospect of a reversal.

It is a reality of political life in Lebanon today that Hezbollah will clearly never disarm simply because at least half the Lebanese feel that having a militia that operates outside the authority of the state is essentially a bad thing. We can only hope that, away from the fiery martial rhetoric, the Party of God will think long and hard before subjecting its constituents, let alone the rest of the country, to another terrifying war.But the Iranian scenario throws up new calculations. Will an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities prompt Tehran to call in arguably the biggest favor of all? Given what’s at stake, it would be nice if Hezbollah told the Lebanese what it would do should such a scenario come to pass. Will it stand by its claim that it is essentially a nationalist Shia party with an Iranian-inspired ideology and promise that a military action over 2,000 kilometers to the east will not drag it into a war that might very well catapult Lebanon back to the stone age? Will it promise restraint? We have a right to know.

I find it very refreshing to read articles so openly critical of Hezbollah and the malign influence it casts over Lebanese society and politics. Are these editorials just the opinions of one lone newspaper or are they a sign of change to come?  It would be nice to live in hope for a change.
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