Lebanon Under Lockdown

The current coronavirus lockdown measures in Lebanon have resulted in a national economic downturn, which has been getting worse day by day. The Lebanese government has failed to implement plans, which would ease the economic and social plight of the Lebanese people. Meanwhile amidst this crisis, Mohamed Ali Younis, one of the leaders of Hezbollah who was in charge of its secret agents, was murdered under mysterious circumstances. This murder further exposed the weakness of the Hezbollah controlled state apparatus, and more importantly it showed why Hezbollah is unable to offer Lebanon salvation from its woes. 


Up until this moment, we do not know the perpetrators of the murder, however some “security sources” have stated that three cars were chasing the vehicle that Yonis was in and the men who were pursuing opened fire on Younis and his friend who was with him in the car. While Younis lost his life, his friend survived the attack. 


Some people have associated the murder with that of Joseph El Hayak who was one of the aides of Amer El Fakhoury (one of the overseers of the Khiam Detention Centres). El Hayak, who was murdered two weeks ago, was a prisoner of the Lebanese state. However, he was eventually released due to US sanction threats against Lebanon should it continue to keep US citizens imprisoned, and El Hayak had American citizenship. 


Another theory states that the Israeli Mossad secret service murdered Younis due to his ties with Hezbollah secret agents, and due to an alleged theory, which stated that he was close to discovering a secret network in Lebanon working for the Israeli state. 


Hezbollah’s media agencies only published obituaries for Younis without providing any details behind his murder. 


Setting aside the theories behind his murder, there are two basic observations that need to be made with regards to the place of murder and the way it was conducted. First and foremost, the setting of the murder is considered to be one of Hezbollah’s most tightly controlled areas, and one of its most secure havens. Second, whoever conducted the operation knew of Younis’s work, operations and movements. To any observer this can mean one thing, Hezbollah’s security capabilities, contrary to what it likes to portray to the world, is collapsing at an alarming rate.  


Another important observation to consider was that Mohamed Ali Younis was murdered while conducting a security operation on Lebanese territory; an operation that the Lebanese state had no knowledge of, therefore this incident was out of the state’s control. The only reason why Lebanese security forces are present on the ground is so that they can look good for the media and the public. The state will also only conduct a mock investigation due to the fact that it has no knowledge of Yonis’s operation and its goals. As such, the state lacks the information that would enable it to get to the bottom of the murder; indeed Hezbollah is the only entity in Lebanon, which can solve the mystery of the assassination and the reasons behind it. 


This event mirrors the drone incident from a few months back when a drone exploded in Southern Lebanon, the location of Hezbollah’s headquarters. Instantly after the explosion, Hezbollah arrived at the scene and collected all the debris. When state security forces came to conduct its own investigations, they had discovered that Hezbollah had left nothing for them to investigate. Hezbollah then claimed that Israel was attacking the Southern Lebanese suburb and the explosion was a result of a self-defence operation from Hezbollah to thwart said attack. 


Ever since the murder of Prime Minister Rafik El Hariri, Hezbollah started to slowly penetrate the multiple power centres that make up the Lebanese government. As a result, Hezbollah would become one of the ruling powers in Lebanon, and eventually it would supersede the rest of the power centres. 


The extent of Hezbollah’s supremacy was displayed when its political opponents, namely the security forces, and the Future Movement decided to join the group’s ruling coalition and accept Aoun as the new President of the country. On this day, it was said that Hezbollah is a regional problem that Lebanon cannot deal with, so if you can’t beat them join them. 


This is a scandalous reality that some politicians and opinion writers are trying to cover up; they do this by arguing that Lebanon’s political apparatus has a complex sectarian peculiarity. But, such flimsy arguments are no longer fooling anyone, especially international observers, who are anxiously watching the events unfold in Lebanon. 


Jamil Jabiq, the former Health Minister and pro-Hezbollah government official, once rejected an aid package worth 150 million US dollars. The reason for this rejection was because the organization donating the package placed the condition that neither Hezbollah nor its institutions could utilize any of the money donated. This shows that world organizations and international corporations are no longer comfortable with making deals with Hezbollah, especially since the US has placed the group in its list of designated terror organizations. As such, any dealings with Hezbollah would put corporations at risk of receiving sanctions from the US government. 


Nevertheless, Lebanon is in desperate need monetary aid. However, few countries are willing to give Lebanon such aid because of the current economic crisis, which has resulted, from the Coronavirus pandemic and because of Hezbollah’s grip on the Lebanese government. As a result, Lebanon might remain on lockdown as long as Hezbollah is still on top of the ruling state apparatus.