Lebanon is a Total Mess - and Hezbollah is to Blame
Updated: Aug 7, 2020
A grammatically-incorrect meme has been making its away around the Arab virtual world over the past day, placing blame for the killer blast in Beirut where it squarely belongs - on the Hezbollah terror organization which effectively runs the country. Another one trending in Lebanon is even more direct - showing a picture of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, as opposed to having to insinuate it.
Long before I was a tour guide of Israel, I wrote a strategic assessment of Lebanon, stating that back in 1998 that Hezbollah was primed to take over Lebanon.
For those unaware of who Hezbollah is, here is a quick primer. The "Party of God" is a Shiite terror organization, backed, funded, trained and loyal to Iran [why you can see Iranian flags flying in Southern Lebanon as opposed to Lebanese ones]. They orchestrated the biggest terror attack against the US pre 9-11, killing 241 US Marines in 1983 who were there on a UN peacekeeping mission during the Lebanese Civil War which lasted from 1975-1991. After the civil war, Hezbollah was the only group allowed to keep their weapons, on the pretext that they were fighting against Israel [which had carved out a security zone in Southern Lebanon due to the increasing Palestinian terror attacks stemming from that territory as Lebanon had ceased to function properly during the war.] They also attacked Jewish targets around the world, including the AMIA bombing in Argentina in 1994 which killed 85 people.
In 2000 Israel pulled back to the border line ("the blue line") yet Hezbollah refused to then disarm. In 2006 they started a war with Israel, which while they lost, they showed that they are a force to be reckoned with. They then used their "victory" - and the fact that they represented the largest sectarian population [Shia Muslims]- which also inversely had the least political power in Lebanon's weird religiously-allocated government, to essentially take control of Lebanon. This was aided due to a power vacuum left when Syria - who had occupied the country from 1991-2005 ostensibly to enforce the peace - was forced out. Today they control a third of the Lebanese parliament and have effective veto power over the president, as they run the country's strongest armed force (and that includes the Lebanese Army which Hezbollah has infiltrated as well). They even assassinated a recent president [Rafic Hariri] and threatened to shut down the country if they were accused of his murder. Over the last number of years they have gained serious fighting experience as they have - under Iran's orders - fought in Syria to prop up Bashar Assad's murderous rule (though they have lost 1/3 of their fighters). While there they have attempted to set up a front against Israel on the Syrian side of the Golan. Today they have 150,000 rockets - more than all of Europe possesses - aimed at Israel and have been trying to (if not recently successful at ) gaining precision-guided technology to combine with those rockets. This is why Israel has been involved militarily in Syria, trying to stop the flow of this technology from Iran to Hezbollah. This is what a percentage of the Iran deal cash ended up supporting (and part tof the reason why Israel was so against that agreement). https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/beirut-explosion-highlights-danger-of-hezbollahs-guided-munitions-637629
Even before the explosion, Lebanon was in its worst financial crisis in its history, with unemployment at 30% and inflation at 56%. They have defaulted on major international loans. COVID-19 hasn't helped matters as you can imagine. Hezbollah, essentially, looted Lebanon of whatever was left to take after the Syrians had their turn.
So what does that have to do with this explosion? Well the Beirut port is where Hezbollah brings in and stores a number of its munitions - without customs checks, of course. And Hezbollah has been caught storing the same material which supposedly caused the blast at various places in Europe https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/hezbollah-stockpiled-chemical-behind-beirut-blast-in-london-637578. They have also tried to import it from Syria using Lebanon's Agriculture Ministry and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has in the past - ironically - boasted about planning to use it to blow up the Israeli port of Haifa in a nuclear-like explosion (see video). https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/nasrallah-threatened-to-blow-up-israel-with-same-chemicals-as-beirut-blast-637582
Recently [before the explosion] a number of countries have started to [way too late] ban the political wing of Hezbollah in addition to its military wings. [If you are unaware, terror groups often fill in where failed states cannot, building schools and health clinics for the impoverished -while gaining their support at the same time. They also gain their money trafficking in drugs, in Hezbollah's case, opiates]. Meanwhile, the UN Secretary General just called on Lebanon to disarm Hezbollah. Good luck with that. https://www.jpost.com/international/un-secretary-general-guterres-calls-on-lebanon-to-disarm-hezbollah-637604
Israel - the closest country which could offer aid and use of its hospitals - and the world's leader in search and rescue after major disasters - has offered aid, despite us technically being in a state of war with them. Of course, it has been categorically denied by Lebanon (aka Hezbollah) but that has not stopped Israel from trying to go through the auspices of a third country in order to deliver aid and set up a field hospital. https://www.timesofisrael.com/rebuffed-by-lebanon-israelis-seek-workarounds-to-get-help-to-beirut/
Unfortunately, with Hezbollah storing munitions in civilian areas all over Beirut - assuming [correctly] that Israel would not attack them in that case - this kind of thing could happen again. https://www.jpost.com/opinion/the-real-tragedy-for-lebanon-is-hezbollahs-continuing-stranglehold-637612 Iran has also now been quite possibly using the cover of transferring medical supplies to make shipments of new munitions to Hezbollah via cargo plane. https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/3-iranian-planes-landed-in-beirut-after-explosion-what-did-they-bring-637691
Still, Israel has lit up the Tel Aviv City Hall with the flag of Lebanon - technically an enemy state - in support of and solidarity with the Lebanese people who are suffering under Hezbollah. Hopefully this accident will bring some attention to this real travesty in the Middle East (that gets forgotten about while the world sadly focuses on Israel). Adding to that, on Friday we are expected to get a verdict in the trial in absentia of four men affiliated with Hezbollah for the assassination of former Prime Minister Hariri. Lebanon - which has already been simmering - may itself be ready to explode... https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/lebanon-braces-for-tribunal-verdict-15-years-after-al-hariri-assassination-637500
Lebanon has seen mass protests in the past with not much to show for it. Will anything change this time? That remains to be seen. https://www.timesofisrael.com/will-beiruts-port-blast-be-a-catalyst-for-change/
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