By: WEA RLC Principal Researcher and Writer, Elizabeth Kendal
Iran-sponsored, Shi'ite dominated Hezballah does not want to govern Lebanon.
What Hezballah wants -- indeed demands -- is freedom to ignore UN resolutions
and re-build, re-organise and re-arm for war with absolute impunity.
In a 6 May cabinet meeting that lasted until 4am the next morning, the
government (which is dominated by the Sunni-led March 14 forces) declared that
Hezballah's extensive, completely independent communications network must be
integrated with the government's. Of particular concern to the
Telecommunications Minister, Marawn Hamadeh, was an "illegal and
unconstitutional" communications and surveillance system that had been
installed on Runway 17 of Beirut airport by Wafiq Shuqayr at Hezballah's
request. The cabinet therefore also voted to remove Shaqayr -- a Shi'ite with
known ties to Hezballah -- from his position as chief of airport security.
Hezballah's response was immediate, swift and devastating. Hezballah blockaded
all the roads to the airport, seized Sunni West Beruit and shut down all the
Sunni-owned pro-government media. After two days of fighting in Beirut,
Hebzallah moved its fight to Druze areas of Mount Lebanon. Eventually, with
the state at the brink of civil war, and with their homes under siege, both
Hariri (Sunni leader) and Jumblatt (Druze leader) were forced to negotiate on
Hezballah's terms. It was a most impressive blitzkrieg.
The Lebanese Army under the direction of General Suleiman (who was appointed
to the post with Syrian approval in 1998 when Syria controlled Lebanon) did
not resist Hezballah. Yet this is the same army that doggedly fought and
profoundly defeated al-Qaeda-inspired Fatah al-Islam (Sunni) in north Lebanon
over three months in the summer of 2007.
Once Hezballah had proved its power, it handed its gains to the Lebanese Army.
The government revoked its 6 May cabinet decisions and transferred the
contentious issues -- Hezballah's communications network and Wafiq Shuqayr's
position as chief of airport security -- over to the Army commander General
Suleiman who declared both issues null.
Then on 21 May in Qatar (which is according to analyst Barry Rubin "an
integral part of the Iran-Syria-Hezballah axis") the Lebanese government
capitulated to Hezballah's conditions and surrendered its sovereignty. Lebanon
has fallen. Hezballah now has veto power over all Lebanese government
decisions; their candidate -- General Michel Suleiman -- has been installed as
president; they control one-third of the cabinet; and they have authority to
gerrymander and create smaller electorates in order to ensure victory at the
next legislative elections. On 22 May the UN endorsed the agreement. Lebanon
is now, in the words of Barry Rubin, "part of the Iranian bloc" and Hezballah
is free to advance its war agenda unhindered.
Lebanon's fall will probably go down as the most geo-strategically significant
event of 2008. Yet there was barely a sound. Instead of crashing like a major
tsunami-inducing earthquake, the fall of Lebanon was more akin to a small,
weak, abandoned man being kicked into quicksand by a pack of bullies. And as
darkness envelopes this poor sinking man, his supposed friends, from the
comfort and safety of their faraway palaces, praise all parties for avoiding
war and making peace.
From this point I will limit myself to commenting on the religious liberty
implications. However, I will provide a list of what I regard as the best
reporting and analysis on the Hezballah blitzkrieg and resultant political
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY IMPLICATIONS
The fall of Lebanon is the continuation and confluence of two trends that are
being monitored by WEA RLC: the Shi'ite ascendancy and the decline of US
influence. It has horrendous implications not only for Lebanon but for
religious liberty and security in the whole Middle East.
For background see WEA RLC analysis on these two trends:
Religious Liberty Trends 2006-2007
3. RL TREND: SHIITE ASCENDANCY
Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
By Elizabeth Kendal, 5 Feb 2007
Religious Liberty Trends 2007-2008
(trend 2: "The New Cold War")
Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty News & Analysis
By Elizabeth Kendal, 15 Feb 2008
While Hezballah does not want to govern Lebanon, it is without a doubt
preparing the ground for regime change. It is only a matter of time now before
the weak, abandoned and subservient pro-Lebanon, pro-West, "moderate" and
Sunni-led government is replaced with one that is pro-Syria, pro-Iran,
pro-Hezballah and pro-jihad. In the mean time we will doubtless see many
"moderate" Sunnis, Druze and even some Christians behaving as abandoned,
subjugated peoples and falling into line behind Hezballah for survival purposes.
As Shi'ite power rises and advances across the region, and as US influence
declines, US "allies" in the region -- that is the Sunnis (great respecters of
power) -- are switching sides. The latter portion of the Religious Liberty
Trends 2007-2008 posting, under the subheading "A Word on the Middle East",
notes several indicators to this effect. Now further to this, recent reports
from Compass Direct (< www.compassdirect.org
>) reveal a sudden ominous and
dramatic rise in religious repression and hostility from the formerly
progressive and West-friendly regime in Jordan. Having demonstrated its power
so profoundly, Hezballah will not have to work too hard in Lebanon to get the
Sunnis to line up behind its anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, pro-Sharia,
pro-jihad "Islamic" agenda.
As noted in WEA RLC Religious Liberty Trends postings, both the Shi'ite
ascendancy and the decline of US influence do not augur well for the religious
liberty and security of Christians in the Middle East. As these two trends
converge, each will cause the other to escalate. Over recent decades, US
influence in the region (which extends most from America's economic power) has
forced Arab states to constrain Islamic forces. As circumstances change and
the constraints disappear and as the repressive and apocalyptic Iranian
cleric-led regime assumes the role of regional hegemon, the future for
Christians and all non-Muslims in the Middle East is extremely precarious.
"A deadly miscalculation in Lebanon",
By Sami Moubayed, 14 May 2008
Asia Times Online
Facts (and maps) concerning Hezballah's communications network:
"Hezbollah's Communication Network Confirms Its Terror Goals"
By Walid Phares, PhD 21 May 2008
World Defense Review
1) "The Fall of Lebanon",
By Barry Rubin, 24 May 2008
The Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center
In this piece Barry Rubin compares the situation in Lebanon and the wider
Middle East in May 2008 to that of Czechoslovakia and central/eastern Europe
in October 1938 after "Britain and France effectively turned Czechoslovakia
over to Nazi Germany".
2) "The Nasrallah speech: Hezbollah ruled, the West is fooled"
By Walid Phares, PhD 2 June 2008
World Defense Review
In this piece Walid Phares dissects and analyses Nasrallah's victory speech.
-- Elizabeth Kendal
**WEA Religious Liberty News & Analysis**
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