October 20, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10891

Criticism In Lebanon: The Government Has No Authority; Iran And Hizbullah Decide On Matters Of War And Peace

October 20, 2023
Iran, Lebanon, Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 10891

The ongoing exchanges of fire between Hizbullah and Israel on the Lebanon-Israel border have increased the concern in Lebanon that the country may become embroiled in the war between Israel and Hamas.[1] Although Lebanon's Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati repeatedly stated in the recent days that he is working to keep Lebanon out of the war, he also explicitly admitted  that his government is weak, saying, "the decision regarding war and peace is not in my hands or in the hands of the government."[2]

Mikati's statement sparked outrage in Lebanon and criticism of the government's loss of control. Senior politicians and journalists accused Hizbullah of usurping the sovereignty of the state and disregarding the fact that Lebanon cannot withstand a war within its borders in addition to its severe internal crises. These figures demanded that the government declare its firm opposition to Lebanon's involvement in the war instead of shrugging off its responsibility.

Hizbullah rocket launchers (Image:, March 5, 2021)

The following are some of the statements made in this context:

Lebanese Politicians: The Decision On Lebanon's Involvement In The War Is In The Hands Of Hizbullah And Iran

MP Elias Hankach, a member of the Kataeb parliamentary bloc, told the Voice of Lebanon radio station on October 16, 2023: "Lebanon is currently on the brink of war because the decision is not in the hands of the Lebanese authorities. This is because Hizbullah has destroyed the state, its sovereignty and its institutions and has become the one who determines its future and decides about matters of war and peace. We are currently at a historic juncture, with Lebanon unable to take a decision to extend its control and [deploy] its army throughout its territory  and refrain from being dragged into a war with Israel."[3]

MP Fadi Karam of the Lebanese Forces party said on October 16 on Radio Free Lebanon: "The decision on war [in Lebanon] is currently in the hands of Iran. [The principle of] 'the unity of the fronts'[4]  means revoking the sovereignty and the independence of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon."[5]

On the same day, the Christian Saydat Al-Jabal association issued a statement in a similar vein: "Hizbullah insists on firmly showing the Lebanese people that it controls their fate since it is the one that [decides] whether to start a war with Israel or not… What we explicitly demand of the Mikati government is to clearly oppose Lebanon becoming involved in the Gaza war due to a military action by Hizbullah, Hamas or any other organization on Lebanese soil. Any such action will be a blatant violation of Lebanon's sovereignty…"[6] 

Lebanese Journalist: Lebanese Officials Must Firmly Oppose Lebanon's Involvement In War Against Israel

In his October 17 column in the Lebanese daily Al-Nahar, Ali Hamada criticized the Lebanese government for resigning to the fact that Hizbullah will make the decision whether to involve Lebanon in the current war between Israel and Hamas. He wrote: "In less than 20 days, Hizbullah has succeeded in exposing the shame of the Lebanese government and most of the cadre controlling the state, who have all completely surrendered to Hizbullah's will regarding the decisions surrounding the war with Israel. Those following [the matter] can easily inspect the series of events that have unfolded since the beginning of Operation Al-Aqsa Flood on October 7, particularly on [Lebanon's] southern border with Israel, and see that Hizbullah has led Lebanon to the brink of all-out war with Israel. [Moreover,] Palestinian factions that have joined the 'Unity of Fronts Operations Room' have been brought by Hizbullah into the southern arena,  which is considered to be the operational area of UNIFIL forces.

"Hizbullah did not miss an opportunity to humiliate the state, its sovereignty, and its security services one hundred times a day by showing that they are helpless and are servants of an agenda dictated by Tehran. So much so that Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who is known as a person who cuts corners as much as possible, admitted that the decision regarding war has been removed from the hands [of the government] and that the government is [nothing more than] an observer, having nothing to do with what is happening.

"Of course, we were already aware of the true nature of the situation, but we did not think that the state's top officials have gotten to the point of completely abandoning their national, ethical, moral, and legal obligations. The contacts with U.S. State Department officials and with several European leaders that Mikati announced yesterday [October 16] are not what is needed, because the U.S. and its European partners are not the problem, but rather Hizbullah, which has not been deterred from repeatedly humiliating Mikati, the government, and the entire political establishment that does not belong to the resistance. The even greater tragedy is that all these humiliations achieved nothing and did not arouse the conscience of the defeated leaders or of those who collaborate [with Hizbullah], who are happy for the entire country to be on the brink of a war that will destroy everything.

"We are fully aware that Hizbullah will not take heed of our criticism and is not at all interested in it. But what we want is for the government, and particularly the Prime Minister, to take the necessary national stance. We do not mean the weak stance that Prime Minister Mikati expressed yesterday, but rather an outspoken stance that opposes Lebanese involvement in the war and the trampling of the state and of the will of the Lebanese majority, which opposes the current situation of involvement [in the war]. The important thing is for one of our leaders to stand up and say a resounding 'No.'

"The obligation of solidarity with the Palestinians does not justify the looming war that Hizbullah is involved in on the border, nor does it in any way justify the south turning into a new 'Hamas land'…

"Our experience thus far with this war… must be an alarm to most Lebanese people and must arouse them from their deep sleep, since those who control Lebanon this way are not distancing it from internal disputes or from civil war – rather, they are digging the grave for the homeland and for what is left of the state…"[7]

Lebanese Journalist: Iran Is Threatening Israel With War At Lebanon's Expense

Nayla Tueni, CEO of the Lebanese Al-Nahar daily, wrote in an article published on October 16, 2023 that Hizbullah and Iran are dragging Lebanon into the Gaza war without taking any heed of its dire situation. She wrote: "There is no doubt or disagreement regarding the massacres being carried out by Israel against Palestinian civilians. Admiration and support [for the Palestinians] are an obligation, not just for Lebanon but for all the countries and communities that believe in the supremacy of the Palestinian cause. However, what is certain is that Lebanon has paid a much higher price than others have [in this context]…

"Today, Iran is threatening Israel, but its threats regarding the conflict will not be actualized on its own land or through its own people. Iran isn't toying with its own security or endangering its own infrastructure. It won't pay with [the blood] of its own best sons, and it will not expose its own children to airstrikes and death… The truth must be told, and it is that Lebanon will not be able to withstand this conflict, and that its residents don't want a military confrontation unless war is forced upon them. Yet, what we have seen recently [in Lebanon] is like a war cry, along with efforts to grow stronger, provoke, spark conflicts – even limited ones – on the border, to reactivate the Palestinian element there, and to send volatile messages...

"The pundits of the resistance axis are talking to the Lebanese about war and readiness to fight, instead of calling for calm, for discretion, and for trying to contain [the situation]. It looks like they are cheering for war and for a party [i.e., Hizbullah] that lives off of never-ending wars. [This is a party] which, instead of adhering to resistance as it was defined, under the pressure, in the guidelines of the [Lebanese] governments [i.e., resistance in defense of Lebanon],[8] went to Syria to defend the [Al-Assad] regime, and now it feels the need to intervene in the Israeli-Palestinian war – all while completely ignoring the existence of the [Lebanese] state, its prestige, and the shared homeland."[9]


[1]  See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 10852, Lebanese Politicians To Hizbullah: Don't Involve Lebanon In A War Against Israel, October 11, 2023.

[2]  Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), October 16, 2023. 

[3]  Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (Lebanon), October 16, 2023.

[4] For several years, Iran-backed organizations including Hizbullah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) have been speaking about uniting their fronts in any future conflict with Israel. In late August 2023, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Abdollahian held meetings in Beirut with Hizbullah, Hamas, and PIJ leaders, at which the importance of coordination between the "resistance movements" in Lebanon and Palestine was intensively addressed. See MEMRI Daily Brief No. 517 - Signs Of Possible War In September-October -August 31, 2023.

[5], October 16, 2023.

[6], October 16, 2023.

[7] Al-Nahar (Lebanon), October 17, 2023.

[8] Under pressure from Hizbullah and its political allies, all the Lebanese governments formed in the recent years approved guidelines that permit Hizbullah to hold on to its weapons in order to wage resistance. This was done by including a clause that articulated the right of "the Lebanese people, army and resistance [i.e., Hizbullah]" to liberate the Shab'a Farms, the Shuba Peaks and the Lebanese part of  Rajar village, and to defend Lebanon from any aggression and insist on its right to its water.  

[9] Al-Nahar (Lebanon), October 16, 2023.

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