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Elections in Lebanon are driving Hezbollah forward, giving it the authority to advance its deadly regional agenda



ANALYSIS / OPINION:

Lebanon has held its first parliamentary elections since 2009 on Sunday. As expected, Iran's local representative, terrorist group Hezbollah, was the big winner. Hezbollah, with the help of the Shiite Amal Party, has a virtual castle for Shiite representation. And the group has gained more parliamentary allies to give the Hezbollah bloc a simple majority to advance the Group's dangerous national and regional goals.

Of course, Hezbollah has long been a political and military stranglehold on the Lebanese state. But now, with its growing military arsenal and territorial control combined with new parliamentary seats taken by its agents and allies, it can not be denied that the Shiite terrorist group is dominating the Lebanese state. These elections became very important as they were described as crucial to the promotion of two key elements of American politics in Lebanon: […] English: www.eu2006.gv.at/en/News/CFSP_State…04Nepal.html. maintain the stability of the Lebanese state and strengthen its institutions. But as the elections show, this policy has only stabilized and strengthened the Iranian order in Lebanon, led by Hezbollah.

Even before Hezbollah won the election, the Lebanese government watched helplessly as Hezbollah built one of the world's largest rocket arsenals in the Middle East. In fact, the Lebanese security forces have actually helped to make it easier. The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) regularly coordinate and escape the Shiite terrorist group. In some cases, Hezbollah has acted alongside the LAF, which indicates full cooperation

Less discussed but no less important is that Lebanon is a headquarters for other elements of the Iranian regional terrorist network. It is a fact that the Lebanese Interior Minister openly admitted two years ago when he described Lebanon as "a global terrorist and security space". Lebanon is currently the base for high-ranking Hamas agent Saleh Arouri, who is conducting terrorist operations in the West Bank Palestinian terrorist group officials

It is a place where Qais al-Khazali, commander of the Iraqi Shiite militia Asaib Ahl al-Haq, a US-designated terrorist group openly meets with Hezbollah activists. The same goes for commanders of other deadly IRGC militias in Syria, such as Liwaa al-Baqir.

Once again, the government in Beirut did nothing about it. Nor did it do anything to expel some of the other terrorist groups that focus on the Arab-Arab states. The Ansar Allah Group in Yemen, better known as the Houthis, has reportedly been educated in Lebanon since at least 201

0 – a fact that some members of Hezbollah have publicly acknowledged. The Houthis also have an office in Beirut, as well as a television station that propagates Hezbollah-style propaganda.

Iran-backed terrorists have used Lebanon as a base to address other Gulf states such as Kuwait and Bahrain. But that's not over yet. Ask the Moroccans who accused Hezbollah only last week to smuggle weapons to the Polisario Front, a violent separatist group in Western Sahara.

The Lebanese terrorism problem does not go away. As the election results painfully clear, Washington's policy to preserve the political status quo has failed. If anything, it has freed Lebanon from the terrorist activities carried out on its sovereign soil. Even today our officials speak of supporting the country's institutions, namely the banking sector and the LAF, as a counterweight to Hezbollah. This is the only way, we hear, of weakening Hezbollah's power.

The problem is that these institutions are hardly fighting the Iranian network. As with the LAF, they have learned to coexist with them. This partly explains how Hezbollah continues to dominate the country – by the threat of violence and now at the ballot box.

Iran's Atomic Energy Agreement of 2015 sets Trump's regional strategy To counter Iranian destabilization and expansion, it is time to cast Lebanon's operational headquarters for Iran and its steadily growing proxy network to recognize openly. The government must now use US aid to get the new Lebanese government to take concrete action against Iran's terror network. If that fails, Washington must officially recognize Lebanon as a safe haven for terrorists. There is no doubt that it is so.

• Tony Badran is a Research Fellow at the Defense for Democracy Foundation, where Jonathan Schanzer is Senior Vice President.

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