President Trump continues to struggle mightily with his narrative on Lebanon, with yesterday’s visit of Prime Minister Saad Hariri leading him to loudly praise anti-ISIS and anti-al-Qaeda operations along the Syria-Lebanon border, despite those operations being primarily run by Hezbollah forces.
This was followed up with Trump dodging some fairly rudimentary questions on his position vis-a-vis Hezbollah, insisting he’d ask the experts and have an answer the next day. This gave the impression Trump isn’t really clear on what Hezbollah is, or what it’s doing.
That impression was only solidified today, when he loudly condemned Hezbollah as threatening to start a war with Israel, and lumping them in with ISIS and al-Qaeda, despite those being the groups Hezbollah is fighting against in Syria.
Trump’s presentation of Hezbollah as a “menace to the Lebanese state” further complicates the issue, as Hezbollah is actually one of the main political parties within Lebanon. Trump’s suggestion of increasing the power of the Lebanese government’s military as a way to sideline Hezbollah, one of its ruling parties then, makes little sense.
The US has long struggled with its narrative on Hezbollah, presenting them as straightforward terrorists while simultaneously coping with the reality that they’re a powerful political movement. Trump’s reaction to this remains relatively uncertain, as it’s not even all that clear he recognizes this as an issue.
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