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Hezbollah Takes Beirut: The Web Responds

The eastern world seems to be exploding this week. After the US-backed Future Movement government in Lebanon declared Hezbollah's private telecommunications network illegal, the Iran- and Syria-backed militia responded by attacking Beirut and seizing control of much the city. Jeffrey … Read More

By / May 9, 2008

The eastern world seems to be exploding this week. After the US-backed Future Movement government in Lebanon declared Hezbollah's private telecommunications network illegal, the Iran- and Syria-backed militia responded by attacking Beirut and seizing control of much the city.

Jeffrey Goldberg: "Hezbollah has been doing a bang-up job this week undermining Lebanon's future on behalf of its sponsors, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and Syrian intelligence. It is simultaneously doing effective work undermining its apologists in the West. We've heard the arguments over and over again: Hezbollah is social service agency; Hezbollah wants to join the Lebanese political process; Hezbollah is not in fact dominated by murderous Jew-haters. And so on. It's been a tough year already for Hezbollah's apologists…."

Nicholas Noe: "The open question then, as it has been for the last 30 years, now seems to be whether the Israelis might be the ones to intervene if March 14 steadily loses its capacity to cling on to its remaining levers of power – or whether Israel might be content to sit back and watch its bitter enemy fight its own countrymen. Nasrallah certainly thinks the former might be the case, saying yesterday that Hizbullah is well equipped to fight on two fronts. Either way, having reached a point where the spectre of yet another Israeli invasion and/or another civil war is being seriously discussed as imminent…."

The Beirut Spring: "Unleashing the sectarian monster can seem like a good idea to Islamists allied with the Future Movement and to the Saudis, but they had better think twice before letting that genie out of the bottle. All parties, including the Future movement should actively portray this as a security and political situation, not a sectarian one."

"Hizbollah may very well get the government to back down…But the fact is, if civil war does break out, Hizbollah is going to get the blame from basically everyone but Syria, Iran, and other Shia worldwide. This is not 2006 and this is not Israel that Hizbollah is staring down. This is 2008 and these are other Lebanese — Sunni and Druze and Christian. Hizbollah can't count on the support from anyone but a few pariah states."

Michael Young: "Now the party's true intentions are out there for everyone to see. Hizbullah can no longer hide behind its 'resistance,' a fictitious 'national opposition' or imaginary social protests. It is confirming on a daily basis that its minimal goal is to keep alive a Hizbullah state within the state and to force most Lebanese to accept this, even as the party infiltrates the government bureaucracy and has free rein in the airport and ports."

Charles Malik: "Hezbollah's militant takeover of Beirut and its systematic destruction of the authority of the state and freedom of the press suggests a sophisticated and planned campaign to take power."

Christopher Albritton: "When I entered Lebanon on July 13, 2006 to get to the war, an Iranian man came in at the same time — I saw his passport. We exchanged glances and went our separate ways. Friends in Hamra and nearby ‘hoods report that Hezbollah gunmen have taken the streets and are telling people to stay indoors. They’re also taking pro-government people from their homes. One friend near Sporting Club reported a Shi’ite man in her (mixed) neighborhood was taken by gunmen as he was screaming, 'I’m from the Dahiyeh!'"

Lee Smith: "A Shia-Sunni conflict in Lebanon might well damage Iran's own efforts to jump the sectarian divide. What level of control does Tehran have over Hezbollah at this stage while the Party may well be in an existential fight over its role not just as an armed militia, but as a Lebanese party? Further, and perhaps most importantly to Washington, what will Hezbollah's actions, and Tehran's decisions, say about Iran's war against the US-backed order throughout the rest of the region – from Gaza (Hamas vs. Israel and Egypt), through the Arab Gulf states, and most especially Iraq?"

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