Stronger Hizbullah Emboldened for Fights Ahead

(New York Times) Thanassis Cambanis - Four years after Hizbullah instigated its war with Israel in 2006, it appears to be, if not bristling for a fight with Israel, then coolly prepared for one. According to Hassan Nasrallah, the group's leader, Hizbullah has increased its missile stocks to 40,000, compared with 13,000 during the 2006 war. Hizbullah rejoined Lebanon's coalition government in 2008 as a full partner with veto power. Hizbullah officials say they are ready to fight even if a war would do widespread damage. Hizbullah proved it could quickly rebuild from the last war with hundreds of millions of dollars in financing from Iran. Polished 10-story apartment blocks, completed this year, line the center of Haret Hreik, the Beirut suburb almost uniformly reduced to rubble in 2006 because it housed many of Hizbullah's top institutions and leaders. New asphalt roads, designed and paid for by Iran, connect the interior and border villages of southern Lebanon - all Hizbullah areas - to the main coastal highway. Perhaps most importantly, Hizbullah's role in the government has paved the way for tighter cooperation with Lebanese intelligence units. Under the terms of the UN resolution that ended the war, Hizbullah was supposed to demilitarize the area between the Israeli border and the Litani River. But Hizbullah has done just the opposite. Its operatives roam strategic towns and have recruited scores of new fighters, by their own estimates either doubling or tripling their ranks.

2010-10-07 11:29:17

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