Opinion: Hezbollah majority means Lebanon now has the fox guarding the henhouse | Opinion | DW | 07.05.2018
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Opinion: Hezbollah majority means Lebanon now has the fox guarding the henhouse

Hezbollah emerged alarmingly strong from Lebanon's parliamentary elections, writes Kersten Knipp. The party is likely to aggravate tensions in the Middle East and take a whole country hostage with its policies.

Supporters of Hezbollah drive in the city of Nabatieh in southern Lebanon (Getty Images/AFP/M. Zayyat)

Supporters of Hezbollah drive in the city of Nabatieh in southern Lebanon on Monday's election day

Life is strange sometimes. The war in Syria, in which Lebanon's political and paramilitary party Hezbollah has a hand, affects Lebanon as well. And yet voters there expect Hezbollah – of all groups – to be able to deal with the consequences.

According to preliminary results, Hezbollah and its allies won more than half of the seats in Lebanese parliament.

It looks like the "Party of Allah," as Hezbollah translates in English, is now supposed to clear up the chaos that it had a large part in creating in the first place. The party is expected to find solutions for the problems that Lebanon faces mostly because of the 1.5 million Syrian refugees it now houses.

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Lebanese Defense Minister Yacoub Sarraf discusses controlling Hezbollah

On issues as diverse as housing, food, and the labor market, Lebanon – with its population of roughly six million people – is in no way equipped to deal with such a large number of refugees. By now tens of thousands of Syrians have left Lebanon again, but the UN Refugee Agency recently expressed doubt that they did so voluntarily.

Sure, many people probably voted for Hezbollah hoping the group could put a damper on the corruption that is running rampant in their country. But the main problem is the refugee influx. But in that respect, the Lebanese have put the fox in charge of guarding the henhouse. Most Syrians haven't left their country primarily because of jihadist terror militias like the "Islamic State." They fled the Assad regime, which Hezbollah is supporting with thousands of fighters.

Comrades bearing the image of Hezbollah party leader Hassan Nasrallah stand by the coffin of a fallen Hezbollah soldier killed during battle in Syria (picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Zaatari)

Comrades bearing the image of Hezbollah party leader Hassan Nasrallah stand by the coffin of a fallen Hezbollah soldier killed during battle in Syria in 2016

Iran's protege

Hezbollah also stands for another dark development in the Middle East. The party is beholden to Iran, from which it receives up to 800 million dollars (€671 million) every year. Obviously Iran isn't spending that much money for nothing. Hezbollah has to deliver – by making headway in Israel's direction for the mullah regime.

DW's Kersten Knipp

DW's Kersten Knipp

Iran has gotten stronger again because of the nuclear deal. The country invests its power in imperial projects in the Middle East – first and foremost in the fight against Israel, together with Hezbollah.

A large number of Lebanese voters sided with a party that – to put it mildly – hasn't exactly been famous for constructive foreign policy. On the contrary: the party's marches in its strongholds, featuring many children participating in uniform, give you the impression that Hezbollah is advancing a giant ideological project. And there's good reason to doubt that it'll have a happy ending.

Some Israeli politicians have already declared they consider Hezbollah and Lebanon as one and the same from now on. You could say that the Lebanese turned themselves into hostages of their biggest militia, whose triumph is bad news for the region.

Read more: Hezbollah's new 'power' threatens Israel

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