As Iran interference in Lebanon deepens, collapse of the government in Beirut could lead to a Hezbollah state.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
The political stalemate in Beirut that is threatening the Lebanese economy with total collapse is paving the route for an Iran-backed takeover of that country by the Hezbollah terror group, a Jerusalem think tank warned Wednesday.
As the ongoing political crisis prevents the formation of a permanent government in Beirut, “it threatens the disintegration of the checks and balances underlying Lebanon’s sectarian government system that has existed since 1943,” noted former Brig. Gen. Dr. Shimon Shapira, a senior researcher at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
In a paper published on the JCPA website, Shapira, who served as military secretary to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and chief of staff to the foreign minister, warns that Iran is working to destabilize Lebanon so that it can fill the power vacuum with its own proxies like Hezbollah.
Shapira foresees four “extreme” strategic scenarios should the government of Lebanon collapse, making it ripe for a Hezbollah takeover.
Iran could move its warships into the port of Beirut and take it over, while exploiting Hezbollah’s control of Beirut International Airport to use it as its own military airfield.
A second scenario would see Iran send its Quds Force from Iran and Syria into Lebanon’s Baalbek and Baqaa regions, so that it can move foreign Shi’ite militias it sponsors over the border from where they are currently fighting in Syria.
These Afghani, Pakistani, Iraqi, and Yemeni militias have all previously been invited by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah to participate in the next war against Israel.
Shapira’s third scenario is that Hezbollah will retaliate deep into Israel if the IDF attacks those Iranian or Shiite forces. Iranian military cover would allow Hezbollah to locally manufacture precision missiles to add to its arsenal of some 180,000 rockets it would use against Israel.
“The scenario is extreme. However, given the continued deterioration of the situation in Lebanon, it can be realized, change the regional balance of power, and directly threaten Israel,” Shapira warned.
Shapira bases his assessment on the pending collapse in Lebanon given that “Hezbollah operates an alternative governmental system separate from the central government in Beirut.”
With an estimated $1 billion in annual funding from Tehran, Hezbollah has its own banking, health care, and education system. It also runs a scout program to indoctrinate children.
“In the words of Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah himself: ‘as long as Iran has money, we have money… Just as we receive the rockets that we use to threaten Israel, we are receiving our money,’” Shapira noted.
Lebanon has been transformed “from a failed state to a Hezbollah state, where Hezbollah’s alternative system is fully backed by Iran,” he said.
In the meantime, Hezbollah is refraining from formally seizing power in Lebanon, but Shapira says Iran’s long-term “vision is to turn Lebanon into an Islamic republic as Ayatollah Khomeini commanded.”
“Iran’s immediate goal is to take advantage of the window of opportunity opened by the Biden government and return to the nuclear agreement on Tehran’s terms,” Shapira said.
“However, the internal processes in Lebanon seem to be advancing at a faster rate than Iran and Hezbollah would like,” he warned. “In this situation, an extreme scenario may arise in which the Lebanese state will fall like a ripe fruit into the hands of Hezbollah, and Iran will realize its vision of taking over Lebanon.”