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Lebanon in the stranglehold of Hezbollah | DW Documentary

Published on 16 Sep 2020 / In Documentary

The huge explosion in the port of Beirut this month killed and injured many. It also plunged Lebanon into an even deeper political crisis. Hezbollah, meanwhile, continues to wield extensive power, reaching into almost every area of life in Lebanon.

The Lebanese government is proving unable to cope with the disaster. The country has a religious political power sharing system that has allowed sectarian networks to thrive. The Iranian-funded Shia organization Hezbollah in particular has Lebanon in a stranglehold. Hezbollah leaders are known to exercise at least a degree of control over the port, despite claims to the contrary. It’s here that some 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate exploded. On al-Quds Day — the last Friday of Ramadan — Hezbollah showcases its military might with a huge annual parade. Thousands of supporters come together for the ensuing rally in a Beirut suburb. Al-Quds Day was initiated by Iran’s former Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 as a day for all Muslims to stand against Israel. It’s conceived as a day of anger and revenge. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah usually addresses the crowds via video message — he’s unable to appear in person for fear of being attacked by Israel. So he reaches out to his supporters from a huge video screen, issuing fierce denunciations of Israel. Nasrallah and his powerful Iranian-armed militia threaten not only Israel, but also the United States. Since the war in Syria was decided, with Hezbollah militants helping to keep the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in power, the group’s influence in the region has grown. Hezbollah has skillfully increased its political and military power in recent years, becoming a state within a state. But there is growing resistance. Civil society forces are seeking to overcome the age-old religious conflicts and use democratic means to strike a new course.


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