National Security

Amid Wreckage of Beirut, Lebanese Call to Oust Hezbollah

Lebanese anti-government protesters during the visit of French president Emmanuel Macron / Getty Images

Lebanese protesters flocked to the streets of Beirut on Thursday morning, calling for Western assistance in toppling Iranian-backed terror group Hezbollah's regime.

"Save us from Hezbollah," protesters can be heard saying to French president Emmanuel Macron in a video from BBC correspondent Quentin Sommerville. "Help us. Please help us. What are you going to do to help us?" one protester asks Macron.

Macron visited the city following a massive explosion that left at least 135 dead and 5,000 injured. The explosion occurred near a port depository carrying highly dangerous ammonium nitrate. Lebanese officials said the explosion likely originated from that cargo. However, some national security experts believe there could have been foul play by Hezbollah.

Lebanon faces a dire economic and political situation. A 2019 U.S. federal court case—Bartlett v. Société Générale de Banque au Liban S.A.L.—found that 11 of the 14 principal banks in Lebanon were implied to have ties to Hezbollah’s illicit finance system. The finding renders a potential bailout of Lebanon's struggling economy from the International Monetary Fund highly unlikely.

Experts say that Lebanon, suffering from a corrupt elite, an ascendant and politically discontent professional class, and an administrative chokehold by Iran-backed terrorists, could be on the precipice of disaster.

A plausible scenario exists in which "Lebanon would become a truly failed state like Venezuela, Syria, or Yemen," said James Ricketts in a Foundation for Defense of Democracies report. "Poverty and violence await if the center cannot hold."

FDD senior fellow Alireza Nader called for action from Western leaders. "The #Lebanese need to be saved from Hezbollah, controlled from Tehran," Nader tweeted Thursday morning. "The #Iranian people want to be saved from their regime too. But officials in European capitals & the Dems in the US only seem interested in a ‘new' nuclear agreement."

Former U.S. ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell shared such sentiments. While Berlin banned all Hezbollah operations within its borders earlier this year, France and the EU have yet to do so. "The French have stopped the EU from doing it," Grenell said. "I've had multiple meetings begging the French to take this action."