Israel’s defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said on Tuesday that the Lebanese army has been fully integrated with Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah and follows Hezbollah’s orders.
Reuters quoted the minister saying that “We are no longer talking about Hezbollah alone. We are talking about Hezbollah and the Lebanese army, and to my regret this is the reality.”
Lieberman added that “The Lebanese army has turned into an integral part of Hezbollah’s command structure. The Lebanese army has lost its independence and become an inseparable part of the Hezbollah apparatus.”
Israeli officials have warned that any future attack by Hezbollah, which is part of Lebanon’s governing coalition, would be seen by Israel as an attack by the Lebanese state. Israel has also expressed concern over the growing presence of Hezbollah and other Iranian-backed forces in neighboring Syria.
Hezbollah fighters in Syria have been caught using American military vehicles and weapon systems originally given to the Lebanese army. Over the past decade, the U.S. has given the L.A.F. more than $1 billion in aid, viewing it as a tool against Islamist extremist groups and as a counterbalance to Hezbollah.
During his joint press conference with Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri in July, Trump praised Lebanon for its resilience “on the front lines in the fight against ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Hizballah.” The president also added that “Hizballah is a menace to the Lebanese state.”
However, Trump’s praise for the LAF as a counterforce to Hezbollah is misplaced because Hezbollah controls Lebanon. Hezbollah is not a menace to the Lebanese state; Hezbollah is the Lebanese state, a force in control of central state organs.
Hezbollah is making no secret of the fact that it is in complete military and political control of Lebanon. In an interview with Buzzfeed News in in July, a Hezbollah commander told the outlet: “We are winning. Look who’s running Lebanon. Look who’s controlling Sanaa and Baghdad.”
[Photo: Times of Israel / YouTube ]