By Ali Hussein
President Michel Aoun on Wednesday marked 22 years since Israel’s withdrawal from South Lebanon by urging “unity” among the Lebanese.
“Only unity confronted the enemy’s oppression and war machine and only unity can rescue Lebanon today,” the President said.
On May 24, 2000, Israel completed its withdrawal from Lebanon in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 425, thus ending a 22-year military presence there since the First Lebanon War began in 1982. All IDF troops were pulled out of the region and all IDF and South Lebanon Army (SLA) outposts were evacuated and destroyed.
Hezbollah, which was credited with liberating Lebanese territories from Israel in 2000 was a very popular organization in Lebanon and throughout the Arab world. But according to analysts ever since the Lebanese territories were liberated Hezbollah has become a huge liability for Lebanon.
In 2005 former Lebanese PM Rafik Hariri along with 22 others we assassinated and 3 Hezbollah members were indicted in his murder by the UN backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon in absentia because Hezbollah refused to hand them over to the court.
In 2006 Hezbollah kidnapped 3 Israeli soldiers which triggered a war with Israel that devastated Lebanon’s infrastructure . Soon after the war ended Hezbollah occupied downtown Beirut and tried to use its arms internally to bring down the government of former PM Fouad Siniora.
In 2008 Hezbollah pointed its guns against the Lebanese people when it occupied more than half of Beirut and tried but failed to occupy Mt Lebanon .
In 2011 it brought down the government of former PM Saad Hariri and reportedly used its arms to force progressive socialist party leader MP Walid Jumblatt and his parliamentary bloc to vote for their candidate Nagib Mikati as the new premier .
Hezbollah’s support for the Syrian regime and the Iran backed Houthi rebels in Yemen violate Lebanon’s policy of distancing itself from regional conflicts
Hezbollah and its backer Iran were blamed for the 29 month of presidential vacuum in Lebanon. Hezbollah insisted on having its ally Free patriotic Movement founder General Michel Aoun as the president
Under Aoun everything collapsed in Lebanon
Under Aoun Lebanon defaulted for the first time on its public debt
Under Aoun the Lebanese currency collapsed and lost more than 95 %v of its value . The exchange rate was set at 1500 Lebanese pounds to the dollar since 1997 and the most recent parallel market rate was 34,000 to the dollar.
Under Aoun 3 in four Lebanese were declared by the UN as poor .
Under Aoun bread , fuel and and medicine became a luxury that the average Lebanese could no longer afford .
Under Aoun the government owned utility company could only provide 2 hours a day of electricity and the Lebanese were forced to purchase power from privately owned power generators at exorbitant prices
Under Aoun the depositors in the Lebanese banks could no longer access their bank accounts while the politicians were able to transfer billions to their foreign accounts with the full knowledge of the Central Bank .
Under Aoun the Beirut Port witnessed the largest ever non-nuclear explosion that killed 218 people wounded over 7000 destroyed a huge section of Beirut and left 300, 000 homeless . Hezbollah reportedly illegally imported and stored 2750 tons of ammonium nitrate to supply the Syrian regime with this explosive for its barrel bombs that it used to kill Syrian civilians .
Under Aoun Lebanon witnessed the exodus of hundreds of thousands of highly educated Lebanese professionals who were seeking better living conditions elsewhere
For the above reasons no one takes Aoun seriously when he talks about dialogue or unity when the country under him and Hezbollah has become a failed state .
The majority of the Lebanese want to be rescued from Hezbollah’s grip . They view the Iranian backed militant group as the new occupier oof Lebanon.