Beirut (AP) — A group of Hezbollah fighters returning to base after launching a rocket from the border to Israeli positions last month attacked an angry villager who broke the windshield of a vehicle and lifted it briefly. I was struck.
It was a rare rebellion that suggested that many in Lebanon would not tolerate provocation by powerful groups at risk of causing a new war with Israel.
As Lebanon sinks deeper into poverty, many Lebanese are more openly criticizing Iran-backed Hezbollah. They have blamed the group, along with the ruling class, for several catastrophic crises that have plagued the country, including the dramatic currency crisis and the serious shortage of medicines and fuels.
“Hezbollah faces the most important challenges in maintaining control over the Lebanese system and what is called a” protection environment for resistance “against Israel,” said Joe Macaron, a Washington-based Middle Eastern analyst. I’m doing it. “
Other conflicts have put the group on the defensive, including border incidents, deadly shootings at the funeral of Hezbollah fighters, and rare indirect criticism by the country’s best Christian religious leaders.
Anger has spread in recent months, even in Hezbollah’s fortress, where many have protested power cuts, fuel shortages, and the currency crisis that plunged more than half of the country’s six million people into extreme poverty.
It is now not uncommon for people to speak to groups in their homes, mostly Shiite Muslims. They say Hezbollah pays in US dollars when most Lebanese are paid in Lebanese currency, which has lost more than 90% of its value in almost two years.
Protests and brawls broke out at gas stations around Lebanon and several Hezbollah bases. At a rare show of rebellion, a group of protesters also closed major roads in those areas south of Beirut and south of Lebanon.
In a recent speech, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrara appears angry and blames the lack of what he describes as an undeclared western siege. He said the Lebanese turmoil was caused by a “black room” in the US embassy.
Critics say Hezbollah has supported a coalition of parties that resist change rather than promoting reform. They say that the group has pulled Lebanon into Iran’s orbit more and more by making its bids, and US sanctions on Iran and Hezbollah have made things even more difficult.
Hezbollah was once regarded as an almost sacred and unruly army fighting for a noble purpose, the fight against Israeli enemies, but now it is the corruption that caused the epic collapse of the country. It is seen as part of the political group that has made it. Still, when it comes to fighting Israel, the group enjoys unwavering support within its support base.
Hezbollah was often criticized for acting as a nation within the nation and sought to mitigate the effects of the crisis on its supporters in a similar manner.
The government has worked for months to issue ration cards to poor families, but Hezbollah is far more advanced. We issued two such cards to a poor family living in the Hezbollah fortress. One is called Sajad after the Shiite Imamate, and the other is called Noor or Wright for about 80,000 fighters and facility employees.
“We serve you with eyelashes” is Hezbollah’s slogan of serving the very poor in the community. Lebanese means that you are ready to sacrifice something to help others.
Tens of thousands of people with Sajjad cards can buy highly subsidized products from dozens of shops around Lebanon, as well as staple foods made primarily in Lebanon, Iran and Syria. You can also get treatment and advice at 48 clinics and medical centers operated by Hezbollah. Lebanon.
Nasrara is also organizing a sea corridor that carries oil from Iran to Lebanon to alleviate fuel shortages, and it is believed that the first tankers are on the way. The move has been praised by Hezbollah supporters and strongly criticized by opponents for the risk of imposing more sanctions on Lebanon.
In the border case, a minority Druze villager fired a rocket at an Israeli-owned conflict area and then intercepted a Hezbollah fighter on his way home. Villagers temporarily detained them and the mobile rocket launchers they used after accusing them of endangering them if Israel counterattacked.
The fighters and launchers were then handed over to the Lebanese army, who released them on the same day.
Hezbollah then angered and rebelled many Christians after criticizing the group for launching a rocket in Israel’s position and after supporters launched a social media campaign against the head of the Maronite Catholic Church in Lebanon. I accused him of being guilty.
Widely feared groups have been hit by accusations from local enemies. They include silencing enemies, promoting the smuggling of fuel and other subsidies to neighboring Syria, alienating oil-rich Gulf countries such as Saudi Arabia, and Hezbollah dominating Lebanon. This includes suspending financial assistance due to being in.
The most serious allegations are domestic opponents claiming that they brought in hundreds of tonnes of ammonium nitrate that exploded at the port of Beirut last year, killing at least 214 people, injuring thousands and destroying parts of the capital. was.
Although no direct connection to Hezbollah has emerged, there are many unfounded theories that link groups to stockpiles. One claim is that Hezbollah imported chemicals on behalf of the Syrian government and used them in barrel bombs on rebel-controlled areas during a decade of conflict in neighboring countries.
“Hezbollah’s agency operates in the harbor, which is known to security agencies and all Lebanese. Why is Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah surpassing the question?” Recently, right-wing Christian Kataeb Asked by Sammy Gemeier, the party leader.
Hezbollah has repeatedly denied its association with ammonium nitrate. However, Nasrara recently criticized the judge who led the blast investigation, further angering the victims and other Lebanese families, suggesting that he should be replaced. Nasrallah said Judge Tarek Bitar was “politicized” after indicting some lawmakers and former Minister of the Cabinet who are allied with Hezbollah.
“There are attempts to demonize Hezbollah and damage its image,” said Sadek Nabulsi, a professor of political science at the University of Lebanon. A professor associated with the group said foreign powers such as Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Israel and the United States were trying to incite a civil war between the Shi’a and Sunni Muslim communities in Lebanon in an attempt to undermine Hezbollah. I accused him of being there. He added that Hezbollah has overcome such pressures in the past and has emerged more strongly.
A serious test of Hezbollah took place in early August when a Sunni insurgent suspect fired a radical funeral at the southern entrance to Beirut. Shooting in the town of Calde killed three Hezbollah supporters and injured 16 others.
Hezbollah did not retaliate and instead sought the Lebanese authorities to investigate the case.
Michael Young, editor of Diwan, the Carnegie Middle East Center blog, said:
Macaron said Hezbollah is not the same after the crisis and must adapt to ensure long-term political survival.
“What they can do at this point is to limit the losses as much as possible,” he said.