Lebanon: A Massive CrisisReligious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | No. 478 | Wed 14 May 2008
Since the 2003 fall of Baghdad, ascendant Iran has been forcefully spreading its tentacles. Iran's Shi'ite dictators are moving to replace the Sunni Arab dictators as the leaders of the Muslim world and to replace the US as the dominating power in the Middle East. One key element in this strategy involves waging a genocidal war/jihad to eliminate Israel. Iranian influence and military power now extends in a crescent from Tehran through Iraq and Syria into Lebanon where Iran-sponsored Hezballah is re-arming, re-organising and rebuilding right on Israel's northern border. Meanwhile, Sunni but Iran-sponsored Hamas threatens Israel from Gaza in Israel's south. Whilst the eradication of Israel is the ultimate goal, the present flash-point is Lebanon, home to a vulnerable Christian minority of over one million.
Lebanon is split between two diametrically opposing forces: a ruling Sunni, Druse, Christian, pro-Western coalition (the March 14 Forces); and a pro-Syrian, Islamist, mostly Shi'ite, Hezballah-led opposition. The Lebanese Army is similarly divided. The Christians too have been split, with the pro-Syrian 'Free Patriotic Movement' of Christian leader Michael Aoun backing Hezballah. Hezballah's main allies however are the state's various Shi'ite and Palestinian militias, along with Syria and Iran. The main ally of the pro- Western government is the US. The government envisages Lebanon as a modern, secular, liberal, democratic sanctuary on the Mediterranean, while the opposition envisages Lebanon as an Islamic citadel in the front-line of the jihad against Israel. The government controls the north and west whilst Hezballah controls the east and south.
Hezballah does not want to take control of Lebanon as it does not want the burden of government. What Hezballah demands however is total freedom to re-organise, rebuild and re-arm for war without interference. On 6 May the government boldly banned Hezballah's Iran-built independent telecommunications network. It also fired Beirut airport's security chief, who is linked to Hezballah which is accused of compromising airport security. Hezballah's response was 'swift, furious, disproportionate and bloody' (Jonathon Spyer). While the Lebanese Army watched on, Hezballah blockaded all the roads to the airport and forced the pro-government media off the air. It burned the offices of the pro-government newspaper and seized control of western Beirut, laying siege to the homes of PM Siniora and Sunni leader Saad al-Hariri. After demonstrating its strength, Hezballah handed its gains over to the Lebanese Army which is reportedly working to restore order.
So Lebanon teeters on the brink of a civil war: primarily a sectarian war of Sunnis v Shi'ites; a war between US-backed, pro- West, Sunni-dominated forces and Shi'ite Iran-backed barbaric forces intent on genocide. If Lebanon does descend into war then it will actually be a regional war (like Iraq) fought by proxies and exploited by terrorists. The future of the Middle East is increasingly precarious.