Lebanon: Hezbollah’s Potemkin village

Two days after the port of Beirut was destroyed last Tuesday, the first of three U.S. military C-130 cargo planes arrived in the devastated city. U.S. relief from the three shipments is valued at $17 million.

U.S. commander of Central Command (Centcom), Marine General Frank McKenzie, called the chief of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Gen. Joseph Aoun and expressed “U.S. willingness to continue to work with the LAF to help provide aid and assistance to meet the needs of the Lebanese people during this terrible tragedy.”

If Lebanon were a normal country, McKenzie’s statement would make sense. But it isn’t. And as the circumstances surrounding the destruction last Tuesday of the port in Beirut—and much of the surrounding 10 miles of the city—demonstrate, Lebanon is not really a country at all. Its national institutions and leaders are not actually national institutions and leaders. The best way to describe them is as front companies and front men for Hezbollah.

Hezbollah has long been the most powerful military force in Lebanon. And in 2008, Hezbollah, Iran’s Lebanese legion, seized control of the country in a coup. Ever since, nothing has happened in Lebanon without Hezbollah’s permission.

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