As Iran garners more power in Lebanon, it is also becoming more accountable to the Lebanese.BY BRENT NAGTEGAAL • DECEMBER 31, 2018
November 22 should have been a day of celebration in Lebanon. That date marked the 75th anniversary of Lebanon’s independence from France. But no one was celebrating an independent and sovereign state.
This year, it is more apparent than ever that Lebanon is no longer independent. It is dependent on Iran.Iran has achieved this control through funding and controlling Hezbollah, a Shiite group that dominates southern Lebanon.While we in the West understand Hezbollah is a terrorist group, in Lebanon, Hezbollah is an official political party that won the most seats in the Lebanese Parliament in an election earlier this year.Nevertheless, most Lebanese are furious about how Hezbollah serves the interests of Iran rather than the interests of Lebanon.Lebanon is the most religiously diverse nation in the Middle East. Lebanese Shiites, whose main political representation is Hezbollah, account for only a quarter of the population. But not all of them support Hezbollah, politically or otherwise.Most observers write off Lebanon as being nothing more than an Iranian vassal. But there are actually many indications that Lebanon is about ready to throw off Iran’s powerful hold.Hezbollah Holding Lebanon for RansomEven though elections were held eight months ago, Lebanon is still without a functioning government. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t be a huge issue. However, Lebanon is facing extreme financial pressure. According to Lebanon’s president, unemployment is just under 50 percent. Public debt sits at 150 percent of gross domestic product, making Lebanon one of the most indebted nations on Earth. Add to this the fact that one quarter of those living in Lebanon are actually refugees from Syria, and you have a desperate need for cash.