Lebanon has suffered economic crises, power outages, heaps of garbage in the streets, and protesters demanding revolution. But that was the case even before the Beirut blast on August 4 that killed almost 200 people. Lebanon’s political class, especially Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militia-turned-political party, is now feeling even more pressure.
“Will Hezbollah be facing greater and greater pressure from the Lebanese people to stop abusing their country for purposes which are not Lebanese, for purposes which are essentially Iranian?” asked Dr. Eran Lerman, a former deputy director of Israel’s National Security Council and current vice president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security. “I believe this can happen.”
No one has admitted fault for the explosion, but many of the Lebanese believe that Hezbollah is, or was at some point, tied to it.
Hezbollah is known for providing ammonium nitrate abroad. In 2015, authorities uncovered Hezbollah’s stash of 8.3 tons of ammonium nitrate in a warehouse in Cyprus; six months later, 3 tons of ammonium nitrate were discovered in four London hideouts.
Along with its allies inside the government, Hezbollah has virtual veto power over government decisions. But according to Lerman, the Lebanese people are tired of being culpable in Hezbollah’s crimes.
Lebanon “is dominated by sectorial and sectarian interests, but there still is something that can be described as a Lebanese identity,” Lerman wrote. He explained that the “Lebanese identity” was strong enough to drive the Syrians out in 2005 after Hezbollah assassinated former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. “I believe that Hassan Nasrallah now has to be very, very careful not to be seen by the greater majority of the Lebanese, maybe even quite a number of Lebanese Shia, as the obedient servant of a foreign interest—namely Iran.”
It would take a complete upheaval of the system for Hezbollah to be ousted from power. Such a change would require outside help. In “France, the ‘Tender Mother,’ Returns to Lebanon,” Jerusalem correspondent Brent Nagtegaal wrote, “With the same leaders in power today that have ruled the country for the past 30 years, the Lebanese people know that change can only come from the outside.”
Foreign aid, however, won’t do much if it is intercepted by a corrupt system. Lerman explained that France can force Lebanon to go through deep structural reforms in order to be eligible for the bailout it needs to keep the country from going down the drain. These changes will limit Hezbollah in Lebanon, and turn things around over time.
Mr. Nagtegaal wrote, “Change is in the air in Lebanon. [French President Emmanuel] Macron is certainly determined to lead Lebanon down the path to reforming its corrupt government.”
The United States is also hopeful to reform Lebanon’s corrupt government. The National reported that the U.S. government sanctioned two former Lebanese ministers on September 8 for corruption and “facilitating Hezbollah’s agenda.” U.S. officials urged that these men “be excluded from the formation of a new government, with the country promising to isolate Hezbollah’s pro-Iranian militia and political party.”
The U.S. Treasury Department said, “These designations underscore how some Lebanese politicians have conspired with Hezbollah at the expense of the Lebanese people and institutions. The United States supports the Lebanese people in their calls for a transparent and accountable government free of corruption.”
Hanin Ghaddar, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told the National, “This is an important first step because it targets corruption, an action that has received broad public support in Lebanon, as corruption is the main reason behind the economic collapse.”
The United States and France are hopeful the next government will “enact structural reforms to curb corruption, cut Hezbollah’s influence and allow Lebanon to receive international aid,” the National reported.
Lebanon is hopeful they will be successful, and Bible prophecy indicates that Macron, or another European leader, will be. Please read “France, the ‘Tender Mother,’ Returns to Lebanon” to understand more of the prophetic context and where events are leading. Also request your free copy of The King of the South, essential reading to show how events in the Middle East will impact your life.