Lebanon, the Secretary-General of Hezbollah Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah
has warned that the ongoing anti-government protests might lead to
“chaos, collapse and civil
What is the scenario for a civil war? Is it a realistic possibility?
Lebanese people think the current upheaval was triggered by monthly
taxes imposed on the messaging application WhatsApp. In fact, this
was only the most recent of a series of measures, starting with US
sanctions on Lebanese banks and on wealthy individuals accused of
having links with Hezbollah. Rumours – later confirmed by the US
administration – spread in Lebanon that more sanctions were in the
pipeline and expected to hit more banks and more Lebanese allies
among Christian groups in Lebanese society.
Many rich and
middle-class Lebanese panicked at the consequences of the US
targeting the country with even more sanctions, destabilising the
banking system and destroying confidence, thus creating the risk of
capital outflows. Many Lebanese withdrew their cash assets from banks
and transferred their wealth outside the country.
repeated denials, Lebanese president Michel Aoun exerted great
pressure on the central bank to keep the value of the Lebanese Lira
at 1500 to the dollar rather than allowing it to skyrocket to an
expected rate of 3000 – 5000 for one dollar. That would have
consequences on the president’s reputation but above all on the
local currency in a country that uses the dollar as the basis for
every purchase, even in a café or a supermarket. Moreover, the
Lebanese debt of $85 billion in a country that imports $16 billion
and exports $2 billion and is infested with corrupt politicians was
in itself a burden on the Lebanese Lira impossible to ignore. The
deficit and debt approach 155% of the gross domestic product.
are about 6 million Lebanese but between 8 to 9 million Lebanese live
abroad. Many families rely on financial support from their relatives.
But since the US’s strict and continuous persecution of Hezbollah
and its supporters, no Lebanese dares to send money to Lebanon for
fear of being accused of “supporting terrorism”. The US measures
haven’t affected Hezbollah as an organisation that receives its
finance on a regular basis from Iran. It has, however, hit Lebanese
society, including those who support Hezbollah, and also commercial
trade, which has slowed down significantly.
real estate business has almost stopped with a significant
devaluation of Lebanese assets in this sector. Small firms closed
their doors and people struggle to make ends meet. Electricity is
lacking on a regular basis, paving the way for the generator business
but creating a burden on Lebanese families, who have to pay their
bills twice every month. This is the same for drinkable water all
over the country. The infrastructure is weak, trash collection and
recycling are sporadic, traffic is dense, the sea is contaminated and
the price of goods increases with little governmental control.
accumulation of dysfunctionality of almost everything in Lebanon is
pushing the Lebanese to unite and rebel against the unhealthy
political system, which is sectarian. This critical mass is making
Lebanese society very vulnerable to a worst-case scenario.
middle-eastern countries have stopped their usual monetary support to
Lebanon- for a number of reasons. One important factor is the
accusation of a “Hezbollah-controlled government”. In fact,
because of the recent wars in the Middle East (Syria, Iraq and
Yemen), Iran’s allies made key contributions to the failure of
US-Gulf regime-changing projects in these countries, giving the upper
hand to powerful non-state actors supporting similar objectives as
US and Saudi Arabia are fed-up with the “Axis of the Resistance”:
Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hashd al-Shaabi in Iraq. In no circumstances
will they allow the expansion of these groups and their
game-changing precision weapons and military power not far from
Israel. Every single opportunity weaken this Axis has been used. Only
one thing is left: a civil war.
Secretary general of Hezbollah Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned that
the ongoing anti-government protests might lead to “chaos, collapse
What are the realistic prospects of civil war?
Lebanese Army receives light weapons – Lebanon is not allowed to
receive defensive and offensive weapons that might impede continuous
Israeli violations of its territory – from US and UK donors. They
force the Army to stockpile the weapons received far from Hezbollah’s
area of control; the Lebanese Army complies with the donors’
wishes, amassing weapons mainly in the Christian area of Lebanon.
civil-war scenario is just a possibility, but cannot be disregarded.
Nothing is factual, but there are parties who believe that the US and
Saudi Arabia just waiting for an opportunity to bring it about.
is no doubt, however, that the direction Lebanon is taking will only
make Hezbollah stronger than ever. Iran is developing more
sophisticated weapons suitable for guerrilla use that are shared with
allies in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Therefore, the only
possibility to distract Hezbollah and detract from the support the
organisation is enjoying would be to engage it in a civil war.
Arabia is no longer injecting money into Lebanon because the prime
minister, Saad Hariri, refuses to take a firm position against
Hezbollah. Hariri cannot go along with the US-Saudi wishes because
Hezbollah and his allies have the upper hand and the majority in
parliament. But the US and Saudi Arabia can inject a lot of money
into Lebanon, as in Syria, in an attempt to reach its objective- to
turn a large part of the population against Hezbollah- even if the
outcome is not guaranteed.
this happens, the best candidate to take up arms may be Samir Geagea,
the former Israeli ally who is today financed by the US-Saudi team
standing against Hezbollah. In this case, and if the course of events
leads to another sectarian war between that in Syria (between
Hezbollah and the pro-US “Lebanese Forces”) Hezbollah’s allies
will not hesitate to intervene. Hezbollah will be the protector of
the Christians who are not part of the Geagea forces.
play an essential balancing role not only in Lebanon but also in the
entire Middle East.
brought to Syria allies from Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and
Lebanon. Those same allies that are still in Syria can easily move to
Lebanon in support of Hezbollah.
questions will be solicited in this case: what will happen to the
Lebanese Army? If Hezbollah and its allies take control of the army,
will the world boycott and surround Lebanon as they did with Hamas in
Lebanese Army, under its current leadership, cannot intervene
directly in favour of one side or another. However, its officers will
be divided and personal initiatives will be taken, as during
the 1975-1989 civil war when the army was divided. The US will exert
its influence to support those in the army who will fight against
Hezbollah, a kind of the “Free Syrian Army” in Syria.
if Hezbollah and its Christian allies win, the answer is simple: any
war will definitely bring Russia, a superpower stationed just across
the Lebanese border in Syria, to put an end to the conflict, and
certainly not the US. Moscow has succeeded in Syria and can succeed
in spoiling US regime change plans in Lebanon. It can develop
Lebanon’s oil and gas fields and stop Israel from violating its
sovereignty, thus bringing more stability to the region and
preventing any exacerbation of the Palestinian conflict.
the economic front, Iran is building electric power and medical
facilities and developing the pharmaceutical industry in Syria. It is
eager to do the same in Lebanon. Iran has said it is ready to supply
weapons to the Lebanese Army. Russia has renewed its offer to do the
same- to no avail due to US pressures on Lebanon. Iran, Russia and
China can also develop roads, communication facilities,
reconstruction of the country and bring the country away from its
medieval infrastructure. The Silk Road and a train service between
all Lebanese cities and the outside world are on the table from
China, ready to go when the US embargo on the Lebanese-Chinese
relationship is lifted.
will remain stronger than ever, Lebanon’s only guarantee against
Israeli attacks. Russia has its own policy and may want to keep some
distance from the Hezbollah-Israel struggle. Hezbollah can launch
missiles against Israel without fear of domestic opposition.
is wrong to say a civil war in Lebanon would be to Hezbollah’s
disadvantage- on the contrary! Triggering a civil war is not to
Hezbollah’s advantage because the Lebanese have had enough of war.
However, if and when such a conflict is imposed, Hezbollah will not
lose. The question remains: Is the US aware that with every mistake
it makes it is pushing Lebanon into the arms of Hezbollah?