Foreign Shiite Militiamen Chase Hizballah Families out of Beirut Homes

Residents of the Lebanese Hizballah suburb of southern Beirut are being forced out of their homes by a flood of incoming pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite militiamen and officers serving on the Syrian front. They are moving into the Dahla suburb of the Lebanese capital, for decades Hizballah’s stronghold and the seat of its military and financial administration.
These foreigners first began moving in for short breaks from combat or medical treatment. But in recent months, they have brought their families over and made their homes in Beirut, because it is closer to Syria than southern Iraq and more accessible for frequent visits when they are on leave.
On Friday, May 12, Hizballah suddenly announced the handover to the Lebanese National Army of its military posts in the Baalbek region on the Lebanese-Syrian border. A day earlier, Hizballah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said in a speech that his “resistance movement’s” mission in Baalbek had been accomplished but it would maintain positions on the other side of the border – Syria – to prevent terrorists from infiltrating into Lebanon.
This announcement was intended to be a smokescreen for the reorganization of the Hizballah army. The Hizballah forces withdrawn from Baalbek did not return to their homes in Beirut, but were dispatched to other fronts in Syria, including the south, opposite the Jordanian and Iraqi borders. (Read separate articles on the showdown building up on those borders.) |Today, half the Hizballah fighting force, around 10,000 men, find themselves assigned to Syria and away from home for an indefinite period of time.
Part of the reason for this, is the wholesale invasion of their homes by foreign Shiite comrades-in-arms. A major influx followed on the heels of the first Iraqi Shiite invasion, including the Afghan and Pakistani Shiites fighting for Bashar Assad under the Iranian aegis.
There are roughly 25 Iraqi militias; each has taken possession of a group of buildings in southern Beirut and closed it off to outsiders. Many indigenous Hizballah families have been squeezed out. Some of them made Dahya their home over the years, after being put to flight from their former habitations by past conflicts – whether in South Lebanon during the wars Hizballah waged against Israel, or the Beqaa Valley and northern Lebanon, in flight from clashes with Islamic State and Nusra Front intruders.
Pushed out of their homes in South Beirut, these Hizballah adherents are returning to their former homes mostly in villages and rural areas of the country.
The forced migration of members of his flock is fast eroding Nasrallah’s leadership within the Lebanese Shiite organization – on top of the inroads made by bitter resentment over the huge casualties its combatants are sustaining on the Syrian war fronts.
In six years of fighting for Assad, Hizballah has suffered 1,800 dead and between 7,000 and 8,000 injured. Nasrallah justifies their sacrifice as necessary for strengthening the movement’s “resistance” capacity against is enemies, America and Israel. The impact of this message has faded over the years. But the last straw for his adherents was their ongoing dislocation by foreign families from a quarter of Beirut where they felt safe. This is further undermining the credibility of Nasrallah’s leadership and movement.
Local elections in recent weeks have begun to pose a challenge to Hizballah’s long sway over the Shiite communities of South Lebanon. Its candidates were suddenly challenged by opposition groups, which claimed they were contestants for local interests, but in fact represented the first organized challenge to Hizballah and its leader.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Font Resize
Contrast