Hizballah Mobilizes Masses Into Beirut
Hizballah supporters reportedly numbering in the hundreds of thousands have hit the streets of Beirut in the latest move by Hizballah to unseat the anti-Syrian-majority government of Lebanon. The ultimate goal for Hizballah inside Lebanon is to replace the current democracy with a Shi’a theocracy in the mold of their creators, the Iranian mullah regime. The destruction of Israel is another goal of Hizballah.
The Hizballah Program, originally released in its full form in 1985, states openly that “[T]he Zionist entity is aggressive from its inception, and built on lands wrested from their owners, at the expense of the rights of the Muslim people. Therefore our struggle will end only when this entity is obliterated.” Hizballah is an Iranian creation, formed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Qods Force, the unit primarily responsible for ‘exporting the revolution’ and maintaining Iran’s international terrorism infrastructure.
Hizballah continues to operate nearly exclusively at the behest of Iranian purse stings, either directly or through Syrian interlocutors. Since the summer war with Israel left Hizballah’s missile and rocket stores largely consumed or destroyed in place, intelligence reports have indicated that, in just the matter of a few short months, Iran and Syria have restored the Lebanese terrorist group’s rocket and missile stocks to levels beyond what they were even before the war began. This is largely believed to be in preparation for resumed conflict within months and has taken place in large part because UNIFIL forces remain indifferent and, by their own admission, do not conduct operations at night. Combined with the Lebanese Army’s refusal to disarm the stronger and emboldened Hizballah terrorist force, the result is little to no internal deterrence and Hizballah indifference toward verbal protests beyond Lebanon’s borders.
At this point, however, Hizballah is not yet ready for open internal confrontation inside Lebanon. Hizballah “disciplinary members” formed a human chain to prevent violent clashes as they stood between the protesting throngs and Lebanese security forces protecting key buildings. Hizballah’s weeks-long public calls for street protests have attracted a wave of predominantly Shi’a protesters into Beirut. As Hizballah provided buses and free gas cards, observers in Beirut say that most of the protesters drove in from the Bekaa Valley along the eastern border with Syria and from southern Lebanon.
The intent is clear: To bring down the current Lebanese government through the intimidation of street protests. “We’re here to bring down the government. We, the resistance, don’t want any influence from the United States,” on street protester declared.
Another Hizballah protester said, “We’re protesting so that the government knows that nobody wants Siniora.” But to that end, there are even some Lebanese Shi’a who want Hizballah even less. Abu Kais, for example, speaks plainly and openly of his fears for Lebanon saying “My emotions are clearly running high. All I see in front me, as a Lebanese Shia, is Nasrallah’s face as he kidnaps my child into the servitude of his dark lords.” Kais has little confidence in the ability of Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora and the “March 14” coalition Anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians to stem the Hizballah tide. But he calls for a like response from the grassroots anti-Syrian & anti-Hizballah citizen base of the Cedar Revolution to form, once again as in 2005, mass citizen protests to match Hizballah, “tit-for-tat.” He is not alone, and the common destination offered is Baabda, the presidential palace of Syrian puppet and Lebanese President, Emil Lahoud.
“March 14, mobilize the masses to Baabda. Resume the Cedar Revolution,” Kais pleads, hoping that relatively peaceful mass counter-marches can avert an all out civil war by demonstrating to Hizballah that they will not go unchallenged.
Hizballah, with three decades of Iranian and Syrian investment and sponsorship, is clearly the most dominant fighting force in Lebanon – and many say the most effective and motivated Arab fighting force in the whole of the Middle East, including the standing armies of regional Arab states. But they have not gone completely unchallenged, as regional Sunni states and Western countries have been funneling support into Lebanon for oppositional forces. The United States, France and various Arab states have contributed money, equipment and weapons to many Lebanese sources, including the Lebanese government’s Internal Security Forces. The Los Angeles Times reports that Lebanon has added over 11,000 troops to its security forces through this support, nearly doubling its size from only three months ago.
Whether the Hizballah protests remain peaceful is an unknown. However, regardless of the support for Lebanese government forces, there is little deterrence preventing Hizballah from sparking the chaos of a civil war that tilts decisively in their violent and well-armed favor should mere protests fail to bring about the fall of the government they have vowed to topple and supplant. They Israeli reaction to an emerging Iranian-client Islamist state in Lebanon (beyond what is accepted currently as ‘Hizballistan’ south of the Litani River) would likely be swift and lack the timidity and/or caution displayed in the summer war in southern Lebanon.