Time for Lebanon to stand up to Hezbollah

Time for Lebanon to stand up to Hezbollah

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A soldier stands at the devastated site of the explosion at the Port of Beirut, Lebanon, August 6, 2020. (Reuters)

Iran, via its proxy Hezbollah, has had control over decision-making within the Lebanese government for some time. We have often read and heard from some of our brothers in Lebanon that the Lebanese people have been impacted by the decisions made by Arab Gulf states, not Hezbollah.

The Lebanese people should surely be aware by now that the Arab Gulf states have an immeasurable fondness for Lebanon. But these countries cannot ignore the Lebanese government constantly stabbing them in the back, day and night, no matter how much they love the Lebanese people. After years of this, the Arab Gulf states have withdrawn, with the Lebanese people now left to protect their homeland and their vital interests.

The Lebanese leadership should end its constant deflections and attempts to blame the Arab Gulf states for the recent tragedy or the country’s long-standing problems while it allows Hezbollah to dictate the future of the country, removing it from its Arab sphere and affiliation. 

The Lebanese people who care deeply for their country must reconsider the direction it has taken, particularly in the aftermath of recent events.

There is no need to document the help that Arab states in general and the Arab Gulf states in particular have provided to Lebanon, regardless of its diverse religious and political factions. This is in addition to Arab Gulf states welcoming Lebanese expatriates, whose remittances have stimulated the Lebanese economy, greatly helping to improve the living conditions of the Lebanese people.

In contrast to the aforementioned, Iran’s regime and Hezbollah have embroiled this peaceful country in reckless misadventures with the aim of boosting Tehran’s regional interests and agendas. These misadventures have not only devastated neighboring countries but have ravaged and destroyed Lebanon itself, turning it into a pawn for the Iranian regime’s “revolutionary” projects, under which it raises false promises and slogans. The regime’s dream is to pursue a dark nationalist agenda in the region to extend its spheres of influence. 

It is indisputable that Lebanon is a key part of the Iran regime’s colonialist project. Indeed, Iran created Hezbollah and employed it specifically as a political arm in the region to render its project successful. 

Moreover, Iran’s regime has used some Lebanese nationals affiliated with Hezbollah, who are working in Arab Gulf states, for espionage and to gather various items of information. In addition, they have been used to recruit intelligence operatives to work for the Iranian regime and to threaten Gulf and Arab national security. 

It is also well known that some Lebanese investors in Arab Gulf states support and finance Hezbollah’s operations and terrorist activities. 

Saudi Arabia and some of its brotherly countries in the Arab Gulf have already taken diplomatic and economic steps to send a clear and firm political warning to the Lebanese government in the hope that the Lebanese people rectify its mistakes. The Lebanese government has worked for a faction that openly declares its loyalty to the regime of Vilayat-e Faqih and seeks to make Lebanon a province of Iran.

These parties are indifferent to Lebanon’s independence, the interests of its people and its diverse factions. These steps by the Arab Gulf states have received extensive support from both the people and the elites. Also, Saudi Arabia has clarified its position in regard to the recent terrible explosion at Beirut port. 

In his speech at the international conference on support to Beirut and the Lebanese people in the wake of the tragic blast, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said: “The continued destructive hegemony of the terrorist organization Hezbollah worries us all, and we all know this organization’s history of using explosive materials and storing them among civilians in several Arab and European countries and in North and South America.” 

Prince Faisal added: “We in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stand by our brothers in Lebanon, stress the importance of conducting a transparent and impartial international investigation to find out the causes of this terrible explosion, and the victims and destruction that it left behind. The brotherly Lebanese people have the right to live in their country in safety and respect. Lebanon is in dire need of comprehensive and urgent political and economic reform to ensure that this terrible disaster will not recur.” 

We believe that it would be wise and politically astute not to leave Lebanon in the hands of Iran and Hezbollah. This is in order to avoid the Iraqi scenario from happening again, whereby Iraq was evacuated and the way was paved for Iran to take control of the country and appoint its loyalists across the state apparatuses and institutions. Everybody knows what unfolded in Iraq in the aftermath of Saddam Hussein’s toppling. However, this does not mean that we should pursue a pragmatic, business-as-usual policy with Lebanon’s government.

Iran’s regime and Hezbollah have embroiled this peaceful country in reckless misadventures.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami

Instead, we should tighten the noose on the government economically and politically, while not wholly abandoning the Lebanese people. Lebanon’s prominent figures, its politicians and its leaders are responsible for the current dire and tragic situation. For that reason, Lebanon’s political forces should put their foot down and tell the Iran-aligned Hezbollah to stop tampering with the country’s stability and security and end its attempts to change the Arab nature of Lebanon. 

These political forces should also tell Hezbollah to end its belligerent behavior toward Lebanon’s brotherly Arab countries. The group must stop its attempts to transform Lebanon into just one more Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps outpost providing intelligence services, terrorist thugs, and factories to manufacture its weaponry. 

The current government has failed to discharge its obligations to the Lebanese people. How, therefore, can such a government run the country, outline foreign policy and care for the country’s key interests above the interests of outside parties?

  • Dr. Mohammed Al-Sulami is Head of the International Institute for Iranian Studies (Rasanah). Twitter: @mohalsulami
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