July 13, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10708

Lebanese Journalist: No Hope For Lebanon As Long As Hizbullah Holds On To Its Weapons

July 13, 2023
Lebanon | Special Dispatch No. 10708

In two columns in the London-based daily Al-Arab, Lebanese journalist Khairallah Khairallah, known for his opposition to Hizbullah, came out strongly against this organization's armed presence in Lebanon, and stressed that the country will have no future as long as Hizbullah refuses to surrender its weapons.

In the first column, from May 28, 2023, written on the occasion of the 23rd anniversary of Israel's withdrawal from South Lebanon in 2000 , Khairallah stated that this withdrawal had kicked off the final phase of Lebanon's collapse, because it set the stage for Iran's takeover of the country by means of Hizbullah.  He criticized the Lebanese, saying that they could have used Israel's withdrawal to start developing their country, but instead they allowed  Hizbullah to hold on to its weapons and Iran to take control of the homeland. The Lebanese are deluding themselves, he added, when they refuse to realize that their state is doomed as long as Hizbullah maintains its status as an armed organization in the service of Iran's expansion plan.  

The second column was published on June 16, two days after the Lebanese parliament made another attempt to elect a new Lebanese president, but failed because the candidate who got the most votes – the opposition's candidate, Jihad 'Azour – did not obtain the two-thirds majority required to win the presidency.

Khairallah noted that Hizbullah and its patron, Iran, have essentially been controlling the Lebanese presidency since 2016, when they arranged for the election of Michel 'Aoun, and that now they will not relinquish this control by allowing the election of a candidate they do not support. He stated that, unfortunately, in the present situation Hizbullah cannot be forced to relinquish its weapons or its grip over the state institutions. But this, he stressed, does not mean that the Lebanese must give up and surrender to Hizbullah and Iran, for this would be suicide. Instead, they must maintain the kernel of opposition to Hizbullah and its weapons, which will hopefully grow in the future, he said.

Military exercise held by Hizbullah in South Lebanon (Image:, May 21, 2023)

The following are translated excerpts from these two columns by Khairallah Khairallah.

No Country Can Tolerate The Existence Of An Armed Militia Alongside Its Regular Army

In his May 28, 2023 column Khairallah wrote: "Twenty-three years after Israel's withdrawal from South Lebanon, almost nothing remains of this country. [The fact that Hizbullah] used Israel's withdrawal from South Lebanon [in 2000] as trump card in the systematic destruction of the country… is now more evident than ever. It is no secret that Lebanon as we once knew it is gone for good, and that the character of its society, which stemmed primarily from its culture and lifestyle, has changed.

"This happened in three stages. The first stage had to do with the armed Palestinian activity [in Lebanon], and those responsible for it were the [Lebanese] politicians who supported the Cairo agreement of 1969.[1]  This agreement later led to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the summer of 1982, which caused disaster on every level. The Syrian regime… was an integral part of the armed Palestinian activity, and it exploited this activity – both before 1976 [when the Syrian forces invaded Lebanon] and after – to justify its military control of most of Lebanon's territory with the joint consent of America and Israel.

"The second stage was manifest in the full and direct Syrian patronage [over Lebanon], after [then Lebanese prime minister] Michel 'Aoun surrendered the Baabda [presidential] palace to the Syrian forces on October 13, 1990[2]

The third stage in the process of Lebanon's destruction is still ongoing. It started with Israel's withdrawal from South Lebanon on May 25, 2000, as part of implementing  UN Security Council Resolution [425] from March 1978. Israel withdrew from the border zone after reaching indirect understandings with Hizbullah, which is nothing more than a division of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps. The understandings were brokered by Germany…"

The Israeli Withdrawal Paved The Way To Iran's Takeover Of Lebanon

"Twenty-three years after Israel's withdrawal from South Lebanon, it turns out that the Lebanese people are still fooling themselves. They do not want to recognize that the Israeli withdrawal was the first step towards the establishment of the Iranian presence in the country. This was implemented in practice after the assassination of [Lebanese prime minister] Rafik Al-Hariri on February 14, 2005. Following this assassination – whose perpetrators are known, given the conclusions of the international tribunal [that investigated the murder][3] – the Syrian army withdrew from Lebanon. Hizbullah [then] took advantage of the security vacuum and filled it in its own way, [by] imposing its weapons on Lebanon and the Lebanese.

"The Lebanese could have refused to buy [Hizbullah's] slogans, [in which it took credit for] expelling the [Israeli] army in 2000. They could have used this withdrawal to turn things around for their country and its interests – but they did the opposite. They did everything they could to avoid recognizing the bitter truth, namely that there will be no salvation for their country as long as Hizbullah's weapons remain on its soil. It is impossible to negotiate with a party that refuses to give up its weapons and admits that it is serving Iran's expansionist plan, which openly [regards] Lebanon as one of its components and targets. [This is the truth], even though the Iranian officials outwardly claim that they wish to help Lebanon and form a consensus within it. Can any country in the world live in the shadow of an armed militia that calls for coexistence [between its weapons] and the weapons of the regular army? 

It is the daily duty of every Lebanese to refrain from wasting time asking questions about the reasons for the collapse of the [Lebanese] state, which is [currently] seeking a new president. There is one question that encapsulates all the others, namely, why does Iran insist on dictating the identity of Lebanon's [future] Christian president? This insistence stems from a clear and explicit desire to turn Lebanon into a satellite of the Islamic Republic [of Iran]. All the other questions are redundant. On October 31, 2016, the Islamic Republic selected Michel 'Aoun as Lebanon's president and ensured his election in parliament. Iran's selection of 'Aoun was not incidental. This former Lebanese president, along with his son-in-law Gebran Bassil and MPs from Bassil's Free Lebanon Movement, managed to perform their duty, until [they brought about] the collapse of the Lebanese banking system, which will not recover any time soon. 

"Israel's withdrawal from South Lebanon could have been used to benefit the country, but [instead] it was used to systematically destroy it. This began with inventing the issue of the Shab'a Farms [claimed to be Lebanese territory occupied by Israel] as an excuse for Hizbullah to hold on to its weapons. [In practice], the Shab'a Farms are covered by [UN] Resolution 242, [calling for Israel's withdrawal from Jordanian, Egyptian and Syrian territory it occupied in 1967][5]… Israel complied with [Security Council] Resolution 425 [calling for its withdrawal from Lebanon]. It withdrew from South Lebanon, and the UN confirmed this. Yet the Lebanese insist on continuing to delude themselves to the bitter end. There is no indication that Lebanon's collapse, which began after Israel's withdrawal from the occupied [border] zone, will stop soon. The collapse will only stop when not a single Lebanese will be afraid to [bring up] the issue of Hizbullah's weapons, which represent the Iranian occupation of the country. Presently on the Iranian agenda is the issue of selecting a Lebanese president who will finish what Michel 'Aoun and his son-in-law started, and nothing more. Just one more step is needed to reach a complete [Lebanese] surrender to the Iranian plan." [6]  

Hizbullah And Iran Will Not Give Up Their Grip On The Lebanese Presidency

In his June 16, 2023 column, Khairallah wrote: "Given that the [Lebanese] parliament has once again failed to elect a [new] president for the country, it has become clear that Lebanon must try a new path [in its dealings with Hizbullah], different from what it has experienced since Hizbullah took over it after the assassination of [prime minister] Rafik Al-Hariri in February 2005 and after the withdrawal of the Syrian army from the country.  [But] as long as Hizbullah remains armed, it will not be possible to actually [embark on] this path by [electing the opposition's presidential candidate,] Jihad 'Azour, or any other capable figure…

"With Hizbullah controlling the power centers in Lebanon, there is [actually] no more need for presidential elections. What can a Lebanese president accomplish in a country that is controlled by Hizbullah's mini-state? He cannot accomplish a thing given the internal, international and regional power balances… Lebanon has no future in the shadow of the weapons of Hizbullah, which was party to the war against the Syrian people, and which, moreover, carries out missions in Iraq and Yemen in the service of Iran's interests. The choice [facing the Lebanese people] is perfectly clear. It is a choice between the [Lebanese] state and the mini-state that controls it… 

"Ever since Hizbullah managed to put Michel 'Aoun and his son-in-law [Bassil] in the Ba'abda palace in 2016, there has been no option of an Iranian withdrawal [from Lebanon]. Hizbullah has added the presidency to [the list of] institutions it controls, so it is only natural that it should put up every possible obstacle to prevent Jihad 'Azour from reaching the Ba'abda [presidential palace].  Iran has set up a certain equation in Lebanon, and there is nothing compelling it to give up this equation, which means control of the presidency, among other [institutions].

"The Lebanese can play at electing a president as much as they want, but, before joining this game that Hizbullah has forced upon them, they must realize that they must face the truth and the reality on the ground, which is that their country will have no hope as long as Hizbullah's weapons remain in place. Is it possible to eliminate these weapons? The answer in the present circumstances is no. [But] does this mean that the Lebanese must surrender to Hizbullah and to Iran's will? The answer is absolutely not, and the evidence for this is the number of votes Jihad 'Azour received (59). [This figure shows] that it is possible to create a genuine Lebanese resistance that will say no to the party of arms [Hizbullah] and to any other sectarian militia in this country.
"The important point is to maintain a hard kernel of opposition to Hizbullah's weapons. This kernel will grow in time, because [ultimately] there will be no choice but to do the right thing, and because a Lebanese surrender to the Islamic Republic [of Iran] is not an option, for it means suicide!"[6]


[1] A secret agreement signed by the Lebanese government and the PLO in Cairo on November 2, 1969, which granted the PLO permission to operate from Lebanese territory.

[2]  On that date Syrian fighter jets attacked the Lebanese presidential palace in Baabda, where 'Aoun was staying. 'Aoun, who opposed the presence of the Syrian forces in Lebanon, surrendered the palace and the Lebanese Defense Ministry headquarters in Al-Yarza to the Syrians, and left the country for France, where he stayed until 2005.

[3] The tribunal concluded that Hizbullah was behind the assassination.

[4]  The Shab'a Farms area, occupied by Israel in 1967, had previously been under Syrian, rather than Lebanese, sovereignty. However, since Israel's withdrawal from South Lebanon in May 2000, Lebanon has been claiming sovereignty over this area. Many, including Hizbullah's opponents in Lebanon, regard this as a ruse aimed at justifying the organization's refusal to hand over its weapons.   

[5]  Al-Arab (London), May 28, 2023.

[6] Al-Arab (London), June 16, 2023.

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