Thursday, December 18, 2008

Free and Fair Elections in Lebanon Impossible with Hizballah’s Weap

Free and Fair Elections in Lebanon Impossible with Hizballah's Weapons

Posted by W. Thomas Smith Jr. on 17 December 2008 at 6:53 pm UTC

If the U.S. State Department-designated terrorist group, Hizballah, and Hizballah's allies gain control of Lebanon through parliamentary elections slated for June 2009, "American support for Lebanon will be placed in jeopardy" and "we should have no illusions about that," said former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin S. Indyk during a panel discussion hosted by the Washington, D.C.-based Aspen Institute, last week.

Indyk's remarks reflect a particularly disturbing reality for the pro-democracy majority in Lebanon, which lost much of its political power to Hizballah and its allies when concessions were granted to Hizballah in order to persuade Hizballah to stop the killings (after the organization turned its weapons on the Lebanese people in May 2008). And the remarks should reflect a disturbing reality for the rest of the world.

"[Hizballah] is a premier terrorist organization," Indyk said. "Beyond that, it has built up an independent military capability that is greater than the military capabilities of the Lebanese armed forces."

Indeed, as we have time-and-again reported, Hizballah – the so-called "party of God," which rules a Shia kingdom inside the sovereign state of Lebanon, which battled Israel in the 2006 war (inflicting enormous damage on Lebanon), and which gained enormous strategic / political leverage in May of this year – may well have evolved into the world's most formidable terrorist army.

Consider the following: 

  • Hizballah is trained, equipped, and heavily financed (an estimated one-billion dollars annually) by Iran, and the organization is operationally supported by both Iran and Syria.
  • Hizballah is expanding its base, and the organization is increasing its global reach.
  • Hizballah has "conducted very large, spectacular" terrorist operations worldwide.
  • Hizballah has defiantly refused to surrender its arms in Lebanon as called for under United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701.
  • Hizballah has demonstrated time-and-again since May that it has no qualms about overtly killing Lebanese civilians as a means of furthering the organization's aims.
  • Hizballah has heavily infiltrated the Lebanese Army.
  • Hizballah, since May, has wormed its way into position as an official component of the overall Lebanese Defense apparatus. 

Yet the U.S. has provided – and continues to send – hundreds-of-millions-of dollars in military aid to Lebanon's armed forces and national police when some experts and analysts have surmised that money may well end up in the hands of the terrorists.

Moreover, last month, Lebanese Pres. Michel Sleiman – the pro-Hizballah, pro-Syrian former Lebanese Army commander – signed a new Defense pact with Iran, and Sleiman's newly dubbed Army commander, General Jean Kahwaji, traveled to Damascus for a series of schmoozing sessions with his Syrian counterpart General Ali Habib.

On Monday, Naharnet reported Iran's allocation of some "$600 million for the Lebanese elections" as told to the Kuwaiti newspaper, Alseyassah (Al-Siyassa).

Simply put, total control of Lebanon achieved by-and-for the Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah axis may well-be in the offing and under our noses. The pro-democracy movement may be effectively quashed within six months, and the West may lose – in fact it may have already lost – its Lebanese front in the broader war on terror.

In a letter just released by the World Council of the Cedars Revolution (Lebanon's largest pro-democracy movement), WCCR president Joseph P. Baini calls on both Sleiman and the "parliamentary majority" to postpone elections until Hizballah and all armed militias lay down their arms.

I'm not holding my breath, but at least Baini is saying what must be heard.

"It should be clearly stated that Hizballah is not the only faction to be fully armed," Baini writes. "There are of course its very close affiliates such as the Amal movement, the Palestinian Camps, and terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda, the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Fatah al-Islam and Islamic Jihad, who are all proxies for and subservient to Syria and Iran.  Therein lies the real dilemma for the people of Lebanon and the Cedars Revolution. Most of the military arsenal within Lebanon is in the possession of organizations classified by the free world as 'terrorists.'"

Speaking to Alseyassah, Tom Harb, secretary general of the International Lebanese Committee for United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559, says Hizballah must be disarmed before free and fair elections can take place.

"Elections cannot take place while groups are intimidating voters by force or the threat of force," says Harb, and after all, "elections in Lebanon have been postponed in the past."

If elections take place as is, Hizballah will be the one political party in possession of rifles, grenades, machineguns, missiles, and a demonstrated willingness to use them on anyone who does not wish for the same things the terrorists wish. And the Lebanese Army has demonstrated its unwillingness to confront Hizballah.

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