from Editorial (Wall Street Journal):
–The CIA station chief in Beirut, William Buckley, was beheaded by Hizballah on June 3, 1985. Robert Dean Stethem, a Navy diver, was murdered by Hizballah the same month aboard hijacked TWA Flight 847. This is hizb Allah, the Party of God, the spear of Iranian influence in the Levant and chief local enforcer of Syria’s occupation of Lebanon.
–The dividing line in Lebanon, separating a pro-independence coalition of Druze, Christians, and Sunnis from the pro-Syrian Shiite Hizballah, has now become clear. As have the stakes.
–For Syria the stakes are economic and political. An estimated one million Syrian guest workers reside in Lebanon and remit their wages to relatives back home, and Syrian officials have plundered much of the international aid Lebanon received over the past decade. The Bekaa Valley also serves as a lucrative transit point for narcotics and other contraband. Without Lebanon, Syria’s economy might collapse.
–For Iran the stakes are strategic. Its elite Revolutionary Guards operate terrorist training camps in the Bekaa. Iran has also placed upward of 10,000 missiles in Lebanon, including the medium-range Fajr-5 rocket, bringing half of Israel within their reach. It thus maintains the option of igniting a new Mideast war at any moment.
–During the years when Israel maintained a security zone in southern Lebanon, Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah could present himself as a patriot fighting occupation. But Israel removed its forces from Lebanon in 2000, and now Nasrallah’s support for Syrian occupation exposes a different set of motives: not patriotic, but Jihadist. And the last thing the Jihadists want is for Lebanon to again become a flourishing, pluralist, cosmopolitan Arab state.
–Syria’s withdrawal would likely precipitate a Lebanese decision to enforce UN Resolution 520, which requires the Lebanese Army to patrol its border with Israel, a function now performed by Hizballah. At length, it could lead to the disbanding of Hizballah as an independent militia, though its terrorist wings would likely continue to operate.
–The Cedar Revolution began as an outburst of rage against Hariri’s killers. A joint Franco-American declaration that a crackdown in Lebanon would have serious consequences for Damascus would help give all Lebanese patriots the courage to move forward.