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Blame for the Beirut Mega-Blast

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7 Aug 2020
Blame for the Beirut Mega-Blast

As if Lebanon did not have enough troubles already, this week’s massive explosion in the Beirut port rocked that city with such a sudden and overpowering fury, the whole world stopped and stared in great sympathy and awe. As the dust cloud settles and the embattled Lebanese try to recover from this crushing blow, the search also begins to find those responsible for this immense tragedy. Among other culprits, the trail undoubtedly leads to Hizbullah. But in this process, let us not forget all those ‘experts’ who have long urged Western leaders to appease and engage with ruthless Islamist terror militias, even though they have no business ruling over anyone’s lives.

Another Crater to Crawl out of
Lebanese authorities have quickly pieced together that a welding accident apparently set off fireworks stashed in a warehouse along the Beirut docks, which then ignited 2,750 tons of the highly combustible fertilizer ammonium nitrate perilously stored in an adjoining warehouse. The result was the largest conventional explosion in modern times, which killed at least 135 people, injured about 5,000 others, displaced some 300,000 from their homes, and shook or shattered everything within several kilometers of the blast.

Wednesday’s disaster comes as Lebanon was already in the throes of its worst-ever economic collapse, with the lira currency losing 80% of its value. The nation’s financial ruin was well underway long before the Corona pandemic hit the country, and most analysts blame Hizbullah for siphoning off the country’s resources to fuel its campaign to destroy Israel and its military adventures in Syria.

A new report released this week by the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies calculates that it will take $93 billion to bail Lebanon out of the staggering debts that have piled up due to Hizbullah’s malfeasance. And that was before this week’s explosion blew a huge crater in the middle of Beirut’s busy port and leveled just about everything within a thousand-meter radius. It will now take an estimated $15 billion more to rebuild the gateway of Lebanon’s economy.

Just as with the economic tailspin, blame for the Beirut blast goes back to Hizbullah. They are in ‘unofficial control’ of the port area. Nothing goes in or out of the country without their approval and profiteering, and that includes all the narcotics exports from the Bekaa Valley. Whatever the origin of the ammonium nitrate shipment compounded six years ago in the port warehouse, Hizbullah leaders knew of its lethal potency (see video below) and were likely holding it in storage for use against Israel.

 

The fact that they were keeping nearly 3,000 tons of a highly incendiary material in a busy urban area did not seem to bother Hizbullah. For decades, they have hidden caches of rockets and other munitions in the middle of every town and village in south Lebanon.

So how did the cruel, callous leaders of Hizbullah gain such a stranglehold over Lebanon and why did we allow them to do so?

Lords of Lebanon
Hizbullah arose in the early 1980s as a rival to Amal. Both were Iranian-backed anti-Israel militias who competed for popularity among the Lebanese Shi’ite community in Beirut and the southern border area. Amal eventually dropped its terror militia and went wholly political. In the early 1990s, Hizbullah also entered politics. Like Hamas in the Palestinian arena, Hizbullah won a broad following by providing social services to the poor, which gave them a political base to run for parliament, yet all the while retaining their heavily armed militia.

In time, Hizbullah’s militia became as strong as Lebanon’s armed forces, which gave them political clout over Lebanese affairs far beyond their small faction in parliament. Besides the steady financial support from the Ayatollahs in Tehran, the minority Alawite rulers in Syria also helped bolster Hizbullah’s standing in Lebanon for its own purposes.

But the Assad regime went a step too far, working with Hizbullah to assassinate the Saudi-backed prime minister Rafik Hariri in a roadside blast in 2005. The Maronite Christians and Sunni Arabs had enough and bravely took to the streets in the ‘Cedar Revolution’, which – aided by Western pressure – managed to chase the Syrian overlords from their country.

But Hizbullah has remained, deeply embedded among the Shi’ites of Lebanon, who make up roughly one-third of the population. And Iran – with Syrian help – has built up Hizbullah into a regional military power now armed with over 150,000 rockets and missiles – far more than the militaries of all but a handful of countries. As a consequence, Hizbullah has effectively been granted veto power over Lebanese government decisions, which is actually written into the Doha truce agreement of May 2008.

Yet after fifteen years of basically calling the shots in Lebanon, all in the interest of a foreign power (Iran), even many Shi’ites are starting to complain about the way Hizbullah has bankrupted the nation and sent their sons off to die in the Syrian civil war. Meanwhile, Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah – once seen as a hero in the Arab world – is now openly mocked by Arab leaders and media for always hiding in his bunker.

The ‘Myth’ of Two Wings
What is often ignored about the steady rise of Hizbullah is the way many Western leaders listened to the bad advice of certain ‘experts’ on Islamist groups who advocated that we could engage with such thugs and trust them to moderate once in power.

One notorious example is Alastair Crooke, a former British intelligence officer who served as senior Middle East advisor to EU Foreign Secretary Javier Solana from 1997 to 2003, critical years for the emergence of both Hizbullah and Hamas. Crooke was an especially key player behind-the-scenes during the second (armed) Palestinian intifada, when he helped negotiate a resolution to the standoff at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, as well as several short-lived tahdiya (calms) between Israel and Hamas. He also was a leading advocate for Europe and the US to allow Hamas to run in the Palestinian parliamentary elections in early 2006.

Because of his prior experience as an MI6 agent in making discreet contacts with Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA militia, which helped bring progress in peace talks in Northern Ireland, Crooke began projecting a similar dichotomy on the Islamist terror militias in the Middle East. Crooke argued that Hamas and Hizbullah were not implacable terrorists but “resistance fighters” who were seeking answers to the region’s problems through traditional religious values, rather than Western secularism. He contended that including such groups in the political process would lead to their moderation as they began sharing the responsibilities of governance.

The problem was that Hamas won the 2006 election by a stunning landslide over Fatah, giving them legitimacy and power without the need for compromise. Their war against Israel could go on, even if it meant the Palestinian people must suffer. [Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmad Yassin once dismissed the ‘myth’ of his movement having two wings, insisting: “We cannot separate the wing from the body. If we do so, the body will not be able to fly. Hamas is one body.”]

Crooke gave similar flawed advice about Hizbullah. Following his rationale, European states, among others, made a distinction between the political and military wings of Hizbullah and Hamas, shunning or banning the militias while accepting and engaging with the political leaderships of both groups. In doing so, they ignored that the whole raison d’etre of both Hamas and Hizbullah was to destroy Israel and impose Islamofascist regimes on their own peoples.

It has taken years for some European and other Western nations to begin to realize the folly of this policy. Only in recent months has Germany finally banned all Hizbullah activities on its soil, although Berlin still allows official engagement with its slate of members in Lebanon’s parliament.

Perhaps the Beirut mega-blast this week will finally awaken Western leaders to the reality that Hizbullah will never moderate, they will never stop hating Israel, they will never be responsible partners in governance, and they will never care for their fellow countrymen – including even their own Shi’ite community. For the sake of all the hurting, peace-loving Christians, Sunnis, Shi’ites and Druze of Lebanon, it is time to start rooting them out.

 

 

David R. Parsons is an author, attorney, journalist and ordained minister who serves as Vice President & Senior Spokesman of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

 

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