Iran-backed Hezbollah emboldened by Biden’s weakness
Opinion of Bryan E. Leib & Maria Maalouf
The combination of Ebrahim Raisi’s (Raeesi) takeover in Iran and the weakness coming from President Joe Biden could lead to a major conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, a conflict in which many innocent lives would be lost on both sides .
Hezbollah has a lot to celebrate these days. Inside Lebanon, he celebrates his victory by gaining a foothold in all facets of the Lebanese government with the recent appointment of Najib Mikati as the next Prime Minister of Lebanon, supported by Hezbollah. This Iranian-backed “political party”, which is in effect a US-designated FTO (Foreign Terrorist Organization), is also celebrating the presidency of a hard-line supporter in Iran.
During Raisi’s inauguration, Hezbollah’s assistant secretary general shared the front row with other top US-appointed FTO officials such as Hamas and the Palestinian Jihad.
With Raisi’s takeover, we anticipate that Hezbollah will continue its tough tactics inside Lebanon, on Israel’s northern border, and seek to further extend its grip on power throughout the Middle East, as that’s what attorneys do – they listen to their boss.
Let’s be clear – Hezbollah is not making any meaningful move without securing Iran’s blessing. They do what they are told because if they don’t, they know Tehran will cut off the flow of money and arms.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has a vision for the Middle East, and he executes that vision through militant proxies. The sad reality is that the Islamic Republic of Iran seeks to plunge the entire region into chaos and into protracted war with Israel. All of Iran’s terrorist proxies share Tehran’s vision to eradicate Israel and create chaos in the region.
The silent sympathy of President Michel Aoun testifies to the inability of any Lebanese political force to stop this dangerous Hezbollah-Iran link which has stripped the country of its sovereignty and plunged it into a death spiral.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration and the French government have called on Israel and Hezbollah to exercise restraint and refrain from any military escalation. These words were not backed up by tangible actions.
Immediately after these calls for restraint, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the current dynamic between his militant organization and Israel is a throwback to 2006, which saw the last serious military confrontation between the two.
In addition, Nasrallah’s deputy, Naiim Qassem, met the Commander-in-Chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Hossein Salami, and reaffirmed that “the land is now ready for the collapse of the entity. Zionist. If an error is made on his [Israel’s] gone, the new war will be launched, and it will be war to the death for her.
Hezbollah is signaling to its boss in Tehran that it is ready, willing and able to launch an attack on Israel. This should come as no surprise because with Raisi’s takeover, Tehran’s support for Hezbollah could increase. After all, Raisi is a staunch hardline supporter loyal to Khamenei.
As these reckless and dangerous statements threaten to plunge Lebanon into chaos, the possibility of a political and economic recovery also diminishes, as the country is pushed further into Iran’s orbit.
Hezbollah is funded by Tehran, and the Islamic Republic spends between $ 500 billion and $ 1 billion a year on its apparatus and operations. This is a significant increase from the $ 100 million it received from Iran in the 1980s.
Additionally, Hezbollah has been able to freeze the economy and society in Lebanon by defying the government and ultimately deciding who should be the next prime minister.
While he was able to elect representatives to parliament in 2000 and appoint members of his cabinet since 2006, he introduced a very unfamiliar vocabulary into Lebanese politics, calling himself a “resistance force” which shows his inclination to lead the government. Lebanon in the fight against Israel and other forces.
Hezbollah is an armed political group unlike any other Lebanese political faction, still displaying its military might. It is a threat to the Lebanese armed forces which must face a rival army which is ready to make decisions of war and peace regardless of the national interest of Lebanon.
In addition, it has built a parallel economy and aims to subject the entire Lebanese economy to its activities. It manages private credit institutions such as “Al Qard Al Hassan” and “Sharekat Waad”, [The Good Loan and The Promise Company]. In addition, its executive committee founded on October 25, 2000 the conglomerate “Jihad Al Binna”, [The Jihad Construction], to invest in agriculture, industries and service economies. This company has created partnerships with many municipalities, especially those with a Shiite majority, to control their economies and communities.
Finally, Hezbollah has denied its guilt in the explosion of Port of Beirut on August 4, 2020. He accused the inquiry committee of being biased. As expected, it will seek to cast doubt on the legitimacy of any international effort to reveal the truth, as the port served as a depot for its stockpile of ammonium nitrate, a chemical for making explosives.
The great Arab-Lebanese singer Fayrouz recently pleaded for the resurrection of Lebanon on the occasion of the first anniversary of the explosion of the port of Beirut. Unfortunately, no one outside of Lebanon has heard this message.
Lebanon is in desperate need of another noble cry for help, and perhaps President Biden should break his silence on the Islamic Republic and its malevolent efforts to divide the region.
We believe now is the time for President Biden to start acting like the leader he claims to be by publicly declaring his commitment to eradicate Iran-backed Hezbollah from the region. He should turn words into action by enacting and enforcing severe sanctions against Tehran and Hezbollah.
If Biden hardens his policy against the Islamic Republic, his militant proxies will be the first to feel the pain and that’s a good thing. Terrorists should always feel all the wrath of the United States of America.
Maria Maalouf is a Lebanese journalist, host, editor and writer. She holds a master’s degree in political sociology.
Bryan E. Leib is the executive director of the Iranian Americans for Freedom and is a former Republican candidate for the United States Congress.
The opinions expressed by the authors are not necessarily those of Iran International