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Imagine Lebanon Without Hezbollah

Imagine Lebanon Without Hezbollah

Tuesday, 3 September, 2019 - 14:00
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed
Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is the former general manager of Al-Arabiya television. He is also the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat, and the leading Arabic weekly magazine Al-Majalla. He is also a senior columnist in the daily newspapers Al-Madina and Al-Bilad.
I think there is a group of people who still believe the lies Hezbollah and its leader spout to justify using Lebanon in the recent attack against Israel. At the same time, I doubt there are people, even from within this group, who agree with Hezbollah’s actions and the damage the group inflicts on Lebanon while using excuses that no longer convince anyone.

Hezbollah has given years of ethnic, patriotic, and religious excuses, from the liberation of the south to the protection of religious places and the Syrian Shebaa Farms. Because of Hezbollah, Lebanon is beleaguered internationally in its financial transactions and trade and tourism, while nationally it is held captive and controlled, from the airport to the house of government.

The price of the damage every Lebanese has paid and is still paying is easily calculated. The salary of a qualified engineer in Lebanon is way less than $24,000 per year, which is about a quarter of an engineer’s salary elsewhere, and the same goes for doctors, farmers, and cab drivers.

Beirut’s small airport accommodates fewer than 9 million travelers per year, while in Dubai, where the population does not exceed even half of Lebanon’s, the airport accommodates more than 70 million travelers per year. While the UK’s Port of Dover deals with up to 13 million passengers per year, Beirut’s port is visited by only 9,000 passengers each year.

Moreover, Lebanese citizens lack basic services, including health care, electricity, and municipal services, such as roads and sanitation, among many others. The main cause is the presence of the armed party of Hezbollah, though the blame usually falls on politicians, who do not dare blame Hezbollah.

Hezbollah is the only cause of the state’s low income and political bullying, presenting the armed militias under the pretext of resistance.

When late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri rebuilt Beirut International Airport, Hezbollah and the Syrian regime waged a relentless campaign against him, accusing him of corruption because he built an airport that exceeded the country’s needs; the final construction plan was set to accommodate up to 35 million travelers per year. The bullying ended with Hariri’s assassination, only four months after the opening of the airport.

The operation of impoverishing the country is ongoing, and the aim is to prevent any other party from taking independent decisions regarding the state under its control and becoming stronger than Hezbollah and its men.

It is not hard to understand the damage caused to Lebanon’s 6 million people by Hezbollah’s presence as an armed militia. However, it is harder to understand those who are still supporting Hezbollah today, echoing its resistance claims against Israel and justifying its arms and daily defiance of the state and its authorities. All other front-line states have signed peace agreements with Israel: Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and even Syria, with the Agreement on Disengagement, which is why it used Hezbollah to carry out its heroic acts on behalf of Lebanon.

Millions of tourists from all around the world do not visit Lebanon, which is supposed to be the top destination in the region, as most governments have added Lebanon to their warning lists. And the only reason is Hezbollah.

The poverty of Lebanese citizens, the immigration of millions of others, and the influx of Syrian refugees are all caused by Hezbollah. The weakness of the state and its poor services are also caused by Hezbollah.

Hezbollah is the cause of the Lebanese lira’s depreciation, the low wages, and the high unemployment rate. There was a time when each qualified person could have found a job with double the wages received by their counterparts in the region.

Israel is not the problem, Hezbollah is. If Lebanon’s politicians do not address this problem, the country will not come out from the hole dug for it by Iran and its proxy.

Hezbollah’s followers and fans can still preserve it, while preserving Lebanon at the same time, by forcing it to give away its arms and become a civil political party. Otherwise, more painful decisions are on the way.

Finally, I would only like to say: Imagine Beirut, and all of Lebanon, without Hezbollah.

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