Shia Unrest in Hizbullah's Beirut Stronghold

(Washington Institute for Near East Policy) Hanin Ghaddar - On Oct. 25, Lebanese police raided unlicensed street vendors in the southern Beirut suburb of Dahiya, the main headquarters of Hizbullah. In response, protesters were caught on television badmouthing not the central government, but Hizbullah and its leader Hassan Nasrallah. It is common knowledge that government security authorities never enter Dahiya unless they coordinate with Hizbullah. After one woman found her shop flattened, she said: "We all provided martyrs for you in Syria. I have three injured sons. And this is how you're treating us?" The Syria war has changed the Lebanese Shia community's perceptions of Hizbullah. The poor neighborhoods are providing fighters while the upper middle class and rich neighborhoods are benefiting from the war. In some neighborhoods, posters of "martyrs" cover the walls, and funerals for young men have become a daily occurrence. In other neighborhoods, however, the war is very distant, in large part because wealthy Shia do not send their sons to fight. Hizbullah has dragged the Shia community into wars with Israel many times in the past, but these conflicts were relatively short, and local Shia were usually rewarded by ample money and services afterward. The Syria war is different. It has been dragging on for years, costing Hizbullah its image as a "resistance" group and its ability to provide social services, taking the lives of many young men in the process.

2017-11-01 00:00:00

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