Lebanese PM Saad Hariri speaks during a press conference at Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut, Aug. 20, 2019. (AP/Bilal Hussein) (AP/Bilal Hussein)
Saad Hariri

“Hezbollah is not a Lebanese problem — only — it is a regional problem,” Prime Minister Hariri says, denying responsibility.

By Daniel Krygier

In a recent CNBC interview, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri denied that Hezbollah is a Lebanese responsibility. Instead, Hariri sought to outsource responsibility to the entire region:

“Hezbollah is not a Lebanese problem — only — it is a regional problem,” he said.

However, this claim does not hold up to scrutiny. Hezbollah is an integral part of the Lebanese government, whether Hariri approves or not. This makes Lebanon morally and legally responsible for the aggressive actions of Hezbollah against Israel.

When Hezbollah attacks Israel, all of Lebanon becomes legally responsible even if the prime minister does not approve of Hezbollah’s actions.

In the past, when the country had a Christian-majority, Lebanon was the most modern and Westernized part of the Arab world. As a result of the civil war and Muslim extremism, many successful and educated Lebanese Christians emigrated to the United States and elsewhere. Today, Lebanon is a deeply fractured Muslim-majority state that is rapidly descending into chaos.

At the same time, Hariri is contradicting himself by claiming that he, and not Hezbollah, is in charge of Lebanon. If Hariri were truly in charge, he would not allow Hezbollah to infiltrate every institution of power in Lebanese society. He would not allow the Iranian-backed terrorist organization Hezbollah to build a powerful military that outguns the weak Lebanese army.

However, the problems with an increasingly powerful Hezbollah in Lebanon are not new and constitute a warning to anyone who believes that aggression can be successfully appeased. The late Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, father of the current prime minister, tried to rebuild Lebanon after the civil war. At the same time, Hariri senior was unable to challenge Hezbollah and its external backers that undermined Lebanese sovereignty – Syria and Iran.

In 2005, Hariri senior was murdered in a truck bomb. This attack was later attributed to Hezbollah and the Syrian government.

Afraid to Challenge Hezbollah

Since then, Hezbollah’s, i.e. Iran’s, power and influence in Lebanon has grown dramatically. As a result, Hariri is afraid to challenge Hezbollah and its powerful international backers.

Instead of resigning, Hariri is willingly serving as a “moderate” Westernized fig leaf for the de facto Hezbollah-led government of Lebanon. This has led to an unsustainable situation where Lebanon’s government, formally run by Hariri, is not held responsible by the international community for developments on Lebanese soil that have dangerous regional implications.

Instead of building a bright future for the Lebanese people, Lebanon’s government has been hijacked by Hezbollah’s and Iran’s genocidal goal of destroying the neighboring Jewish state. Hezbollah has transformed much of southern Lebanon into a launching pad for military aggression against Israel. While much of Lebanon suffers economically, Hezbollah and its Iranian paymasters have invested heavily in military factories, which manufacture lethal weaponry that threatens Israel’s civilian population.

Hezbollah’s aggression against Israel and brutal warfare inside Syria, Iraq and Yemen has indeed become a regional concern. Lebanon’s government cannot be allowed to have its cake and eat it too. Either Lebanon’s government assumes responsibility for its territory or Israel and other international players will be forced to step in and defuse the escalating Iranian-backed Hezbollah threat.

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