Michael Totten

Why Hezbollah Circles the Drain

Lebanese reader Omega80 left a comment here that deserves to be promoted to the front page since the problem of Hezbollah has come up again. He does an excellent job explaining how they are viewed by most Lebanese today and why. He says he’s going to tell you how it is. And I agree with him. This is pretty much how it is.

For all those that want to know, i’m going to tell you how it is:
Most Lebanese, I included, supported Hezbollah to a certain extent up until Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000. For a while after that we also felt that maybe Hezbollah should stay armed, just in case. However, it has been 6 years since Israel withdrew from Lebanon, at it is quite aparent that they will leave us alone as long as we leave them alone.
On top of that, with the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon more than a year ago, new forces came into play. Namely, the fact that Hezbollah is a sectarian group that is armed, the only group in Lebanon that is armed. Thus, it is not about Israel anymore, but rather, about internal Lebanese dynamics, namely, that one community armed while others aren’t tips the delicate balance in Lebanon’s confessional system.
Since having all groups armed is not the way to create a country, and we all have seen the effects of this, the only solution is for Hezbollah to disarm. Israel will leave us alone as long as we leave them alone, so that aspect is covered. Now mind you, that’s not to say that Israel is not a threat, however, any disarmament of Hezbollah would go hand in hand with security guarantees from the U.N. and the U.S. that Israel will not bother Lebanon anymore.
The fact of the matter is that Hezbollah is going to disarm sometime down the road, sooner rather than later. The only other alternative in the long term is civil conflict in Lebanon again. Everyone is being patient now because they KNOW that Hezbollah will disarm. However, if it does become fact that Hezbollah is not going to disarm, over the long term other Lebanese groups and communities will eventually do the same to rectify the balance. Also, we all know that Syria would want nothing other than to see a civil war in Lebanon again, as a prelude to them reasserting themselves in the country.
However, even Shias in Lebanon would not be willing to have another Civil War in Lebanon just so they could stay armed, because that means more death, destruction, and poverty for them as well. To put it in basic terms, everyone in Lebanon wants Hezbollah disarmed except Syrian stooges and Hezbollah themselves. That includes right wing Maronites, left wing Maronites, socialist Druze, urban Sunni, and many Shia as well.