January 13, 2011 | National Review Online

Reading the Developments in Lebanon

Berlin — Lebanon’s de facto government, the Iranian proxy Hezbollah, dissolved Beirut’s coalition administration on Wednesday while Lebanon’s Western-leaning prime minister, Sa’ad Hariri, was visiting with President Obama in Washington.

Hezbollah’s timing was orchestrated to send two messages to the West. First, Hezbollah head Sheik Hassan Nasrallah seeks to torpedo the U.N. investigation into the assassination of Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri’s father, former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. The Holland-based U.N. commission, whose findings will be issued imminently, might result in indictments against a Hezbollah death squad for the murder of Rafik Hariri.

Second, Hezbollah cleverly exploited Sa’ad Hariri’s visit with President Obama and other Western leaders to show that the political Islamists rule the roost in Lebanese society.

Despite a U.N. resolution to disarm Hezbollah after the second war in Lebanon, the entity has amassed 40,000 rockets since the militia kidnapped and murdered Israeli soldiers in 2006, which sparked Israel’s defense measures and that war. That helps to explain why the dissolution of the Lebanese government prompted Israel to go on military alert yesterday on its northern border.

The good news is that President Obama’s international sanctions strategy against Iran has seen results. The Islamic Republic of Iran, Hezbollah’s chief sponsor, has been forced to reduce its supply of military and financial aid to the Islamic fanatics by 40 percent. Over the years, the Iranian regime has pumped roughly $1 billion in military aid into Hezbollah’s arsenal.

The disturbing news is President Obama and last year’s Democratic House approved $100 million in direct military aid for Lebanon. There were assurances made that the military goods would not end up in Hezbollah’s camp, but it defies belief that Lebanon’s fragile political system can prevent a Hamas-style takeover of Lebanon by Hezbollah (think 2007 in Gaza). In 2008, the terrorist entity seized Beirut for a short period of time, to demonstrate its capability to transform Lebanon into a full-blown satellite of Iran.

Plainly said, it is time that the U.S. discontinues military funds for Lebanon and redirect monies to pro–Lebanese democracy organizations. EU countries like Germany — where Hezbollah has 900 active members and the group remains legal — ought to abandon the delusional thinking that Hezbollah is a pragmatic political party and outlaw the radical Islamic thugs.

— Benjamin Weinthal is a fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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