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Lebanese PM’s Resignation Magnifies Congressional Scrutiny of Hezbollah

Tony Badran
7th November 2017 - Quoted by Jenna Lifhits - The Weekly Standard

The resignation of Lebanon’s prime minister over the weekend is heightening congressional scrutiny of Hezbollah's wide-ranging influence in the country, with a top lawmaker calling on the Trump administration to reassess military assistance.

Speaking from Saudi Arabia on Saturday, then-prime minister Saad Hariri tore into Hezbollah and its top backer, Iran, condemning their destructive role inside and outside Lebanon, and expressing fear about an assassination plot against him. (Hariri’s father, Rafik, was assassinated in 2005 and several members of Hezbollah were indicted by a special tribunal.) Sources on and off Capitol Hill told THE WEEKLY STANDARD the remarks represent an “unmasking” of Lebanon as controlled largely by Iran and its Hezbollah proxy.

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Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said that Hariri's speech further challenges a U.S. policy aimed at supporting the Lebanese army while undermining Hezbollah.

“If the premise is strengthen the state, and the resigning prime minister just told you that the state is controlled by Hezbollah—what are we strengthening, exactly? Are we strengthening a Hezbollah state?” he said. “Conceptually, it forces a pause and a rethink of the premise of the policy.”

Badran said that Lebanon could see a political "vacuum" period after Hariri's departure. But he stressed that irrespective of day-to-day political maneuvers, Hezbollah’s clout in Lebanon remains.

"In terms of the actual balance of power, the actual power on the ground, regardless of the politics, regardless of the Cabinets, regardless of the parliamentary majorities: it's Hezbollah.”

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Tags

hezbollah, iran, lebanon, saudi-arabia