Speaking in Cairo on Thursday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo set an
uncomfortabe goal for the United States in Lebanon, the expulsion of
Hezbollah. He said the US would never accept the status quo, wherein Hezbollah has a “major presence” in Lebanon.
The US has always had a problem with Hezbollah, viewing them as a terrorist organization because of their history of fighting Israel. Yet beyond its fighting force, Hezbollah is a huge faction inside Lebanon, including a major political party within the current ruling coalition.
While Pompeo tried to spin Hezbollah as part of “Iranian adventurism” across the region, the reality is that Hezbollah is a Lebanon-based organization that is thoroughly Lebanese. There is no place to expel them to.
Saying that the US will not accept the status quo effectively means the US will continue to interfere in Lebanese elections going forward, “warning” the Lebanese voters against electing a Hezbollah-backed government. So far, that hasn’t been very successful, and Hezbollah’s political fortunes don’t seem to be substantially hurt by the US.
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