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Hezbollah in Trouble

Most of Hezbollah’s official allies in Lebanon are bribed and bullied into supporting it. The principal bullying instrument lately has been the Syrian car bomb. So if the Assad regime is pulled down in Damascus, expect a great deal of Hezbollah’s local support to simply evaporate.

It’s already starting to happen even while Assad is still standing.

Here is Amir Taheri:

In his Army Day speech, President Michel Suleiman, an ex- general, rejected all three pillars of Hezbollah’s discourse:

* Hezbollah insists that it maintains an unofficial army to “resist Israeli aggression.”

Suleiman said: “Defending the nation and ensuring its sovereignty with the force of arms is the exclusive prerogative of the national army.”

* Hezbollah also claims to be part of a “Resistance Front,” along with the Islamic Republic in Tehran and the Assad regime in Damascus. This, it says, means waging “relentless war” against the United States and Israel until “the Islamic Revolution” triumphs worldwide.

Suleiman, by contrast, pointedly asserted that no one had the right to involve Lebanon in conflicts that have nothing to do with it.

“We will not be dragged into problems created by others,” he said.

* Hezbollah has turned southern Beirut, parts of the Bekaa Valley and parts of south Lebanon into no-go areas for the Lebanese national army and police.

In tones that would have been unimaginable even a month ago, Suleiman said the national army would assert its presence throughout the national territory:

“The state shall never accept that the army abandons its role in any parcel of national territory,” the president said. “No to mini-states and sectarian enclaves anywhere in national territory.”

Suleiman also raised the issue of disarming Hezbollah, a goal already enshrined in documents of national accord as well as three UN Security Council resolutions.

“We reject the chaotic spread of arms and are opposed to the use of weapons outside the national framework,” he said.

Suleiman was moderately pro-Hezbollah in some ways, at least for a while, but that’s clearly over, at least for now.

During the uprising against Syria’s military rule in Lebanon in 2005, Lebanese journalist Samir Kassir wrote the following: “The Arab tourists might have fled Beirut after the assassination of Rafik Hariri, but they will return with the Beirut Spring. And this time they will not only shop and have fun, they will come seeking the red and white that today crowns the capital of the Arabs. Our Syrian brothers, from laymen to cultured businessmen, might have been startled for a second by what they mistook as hostility toward them. But it is the product of a tyranny that chokes them just as much as it does the Lebanese. They will be happy to return because they know more than others that when the Arab Spring blossoms in Beirut, the roses will bloom in Damascus.”

Kassir was wrong. The roses never did bloom in Damascus. The Assad’s struck back and murdered him on his way to work with a car bomb.

I don’t expect roses to bloom in Damascus even if Assad hangs from a lamppost, but Lebanon might be sort of okay again. Maybe.
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