Amid concern in Jordan about the presence of pro-Iran Shi’ite forces on the Jordan-Syria border, and following the November 19, 2017 Arab League statement calling Hezbollah an organization “that supports terrorist groups in the Arab world,” Fahd Al-Fanek, a senior columnist in the Jordanian government daily Al-Rai, wrote that there is no justification for Hezbollah’s possession of weapons. The claim that Hezbollah needs these weapons to oppose Israel is groundless, he said, because this organization has not acted against Israel since the 2006 war, and also because the Shab’a Farms – which Hezbollah cites as one of the reasons for its continued hostility towards Israel – were Syrian, rather than Lebanese, territory when Israel occupied them in 1967. Al-Fanek added that, instead of fighting Israel, Hezbollah is serving Iran by dragging Lebanon into conflicts that do not concern it in Syria and elsewhere; furthermore, its military activity harms Lebanon’s security and its tourism-based economy, and undermines the country’s ability to function as a democracy.
The following are excerpts from his article:
“The secretary-general of the Lebanese Hezbollah, [Hassan Nasrallah], confirmed on several occasions that his party holds on to its weapons due to the inability of the Lebanese army to confront Israel. Lebanese President Michel ‘Aoun repeated this when he justified Hezbollah’s armed [status], and added that this armed party would no longer be justified in maintaining its arsenal once the Lebanese army attained the ability to confront Israel, a long time from now.
“This is a groundless claim, for the simple reason that no existing Arab army has the ability to defeat the Israel army. This is true of [all] Arab countries, large and small. So how can anyone expect the smallest Arab state [Lebanon] to surpass Israel militarily? In this context, let us recall the commitment of American presidents to maintain Israel’s advantage over the Arab armies, separately or together. So I wonder when the Lebanese army, by itself, can ever become an equal rival of the Israeli army…
“Resistance is a magic word that [ostensibly] legitimizes all armed activity. But resistance [against Israel], if it exists, has not occurred since 2006, namely for 11 years – and this is because Israel managed to restore security to South Lebanon and expelled Hezbollah from [that region] to Beirut, where it established [a new stronghold], in the southern Dahia. Once established there, [Hezbollah] devoted its energies to its armed political role, not only in Lebanon but also in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, so that Iran could call upon it to carry out tasks on its behalf.
“Lebanon is a small country whose economy depends on tourism and services, and its interests require strong ties with the [other] Arab states. But Hezbollah has deprived Lebanon of its security and involved it in inter-Arab conflicts, which serves only the Iranian plans for the region. Some say that the Sheeba Farms are Lebanese territory still under Israeli occupation, yet Hezbollah has not done a thing to liberate them. [The Sheeba Farms] may indeed be Lebanese territory, but Syria annexed them. In the June 1967 war Israel took them from Syria rather than Lebanon, and [Israel] says it will return them to Syria once there is peace between them.
“In any case, the following facts remain:
“Hezbollah is a military force subordinate to a foreign country.
“It is a sectarian organization whose members belong only to the Shi’ite sect .
“Hezbollah’s leadership is a religious leadership, as evident from the facts that its leader [Nasrallah] is a cleric and it is subordinate to Vilayat al Faqih ( the Rule of the Jurisprudent in Qom).
“Hezbollah is the only armed party [in Lebanon], so how can democratic [relations] between the different sides be maintained when [only] one of them is armed[?]
“Hezbollah controls Lebanon’s government, institutions, airports, and harbors…”