In an event which should surprise no one, Hezbollah, the Iranian proxy in Lebanon, has taken control of the government in anticipation of indictments of senior Hezbollah officials in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri:
Saad Hariri, whose government was toppled after Hezbollah and its allies withdrew from it this month, declared the appointment of a new prime minister chosen by the Shiite Muslim movement on Tuesday a “coup d’état,” as angry protesters took to the streets in Lebanon, burning tires and attacking the office of one of Mr. Hariri’s foes….
After days of political wrangling, the candidate chosen by Hezbollah, Najib Miqati, a billionaire and former prime minister, won 68 seats in Lebanon’s 128-member Parliament, enough to name the next government in a country as divided as it is diverse. His elevation was a clear victory for Hezbollah, which has ruled out Mr. Hariri’s return to power, and it marked the culmination of what was already accepted as a fact of life here: that Hezbollah is the country’s pre-eminent military and political force.
“What has happened is virtually a coup d’état, a political coup d’état,” Mr. Hariri said in an interview at his home near the seat of government that he and his team left only days before. “Me and my allies, we will represent the opposition.”
The result in many ways reflects the power balance within Lebanon, with Hezbollah clearly being the most powerful military force. Just last week Hezbollah staged a mock military takeover of Beirut as a show of force.
Hezbollah now is the government of Lebanon, and any actions by Hezbollah now are state actions of Lebanon. This greatly increases the likelihood of war with Israel, which now faces an Iranian-backed government on its northern border.
Additionally, any international assistance to the government of Lebanon — including weapons sales by the U.S. and France — now will be supportintg an Iranian proxy. Expect Iran and Syria to step in to provide military assistance to the Lebanese Army as western sources dry up.
In a sense, democracy has worked in Lebanon; the coup d’etat was political, not military. Now Lebanon will bear the consequences of its democracy. The Lebanese Army, in particular, now cannot play the game that it is not responsible for Hezbollah’s actions.
Hezbollah may have wished too hard for something, and now it has control of the state, with all that entails.