After several weeks of inactivity due to the coronavirus outbreak, protesters returned to the streets of Lebanon to demonstrate against the Lebanese Hezbollah after the organization was listed on Germany’s terrorist roster. The coronavirus outbreak had caused citizens protesting their governments in Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon to leave the streets and squares and take refuge in their homes. Their governments were certainly grateful to coronavirus for temporarily curbing the crisis for them. But, the same governments never imagined that despite the continuation of the pandemic, the people would return to the streets to continue their protests against the presence of Iranian proxy forces in their countries. It seems perhaps that the coronavirus may even have intensified and deepened the protests.
The Lebanese people were in the lead this time. They had given in to the coronavirus threat for awhile, but now showed, by taking to the streets again, they were willing to die rather than give up their ideals.
The Lebanese protested in the cities of Tripoli, Sidon, and Beirut chanting “Revolution, Revolution” and “Hezbollah is terrorist” as they clashed with security forces. Furious people in Tripoli, after the funeral of a young man killed in the clashes, took to the streets and set fire to security forces’ vehicles.
“The ruling coalition led by Hezbollah is trying to take control of the central bank,” protesters said. Al-Hadath called the uprising a “revolution of the hungry.” The message was clear and quickly spread around the world and equally quickly found its audience.
A few days after Lebanon, Iraqi protesters took to the streets in the provinces of Karbala, Wasit, and Babil. They chanted slogans and rallied against the ruling regime, emphasizing the need to continue the uprising. Fear gripped Hezbollah and officials in Tehran. In the protracted series of protests, after Lebanon and Iraq, it is now the turn of Iranian cities – as they were in pre-coronavirus, they will be in post-coronavirus as well. The regime’s fear is growing that now, even during the pandemic, protests have returned.
The message was conveyed elsewhere. Germany said it “has banned the activities of the Lebanese Hezbollah group that is backed by Iran on its soil and recognizes the group as a terrorist organization.”. The German Interior Minister announced on Thursday, April 30th, that German police had raided Hezbollah mosques in four cities early that morning. Reuters reported that “German security officials believe that about 1,050 people in the country are members of the extremist group Hezbollah.” An intelligence report released last year also linked about 30 mosques and the “Islamic Cultural Center” in Germany to Hezbollah. So far, the United States, Canada, Israel, Britain, the Arab League, and the Netherlands have recognized both Hezbollah’s political and military branches to be terrorists.
Hezbollah members and supporters at a parade
Image by khamenei.ir
Saudi Arabia welcomed the German action in recognizing Lebanese Hezbollah as terrorists. “This is an important step in the fight against terrorism at the national and international levels,” the Saudi Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The Bahraini Foreign Ministry also welcomed Germany’s move to recognize the Lebanese Hezbollah as a terrorist group in a statement issued on Thursday. But the clearest message came from Mike Doran, a senior researcher at the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C., when he equated Lebanon with the Velayat-e-Faqih system. He said, “Germany’s action is a major step and deserves much praise, but more needs to be done.”
“Restricting Hezbollah will reduce Iran’s malicious activities,” said Mike Pompeo, praising Germany’s decision to recognize Lebanon’s Hezbollah as a terrorist group. “Preventing the terrorist organization’s ability to plan terrorist attacks and raise money will reduce Iran’s influence and misconduct.”
“US sanctions have had a real impact on Hezbollah’s capabilities,” said David Schenker, assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs. “As if the campaign of maximum pressure on the Iranian regime has prevented the regime from gaining money, it is sending less money to Hezbollah.”
The Velayat-e-Faqih regime’s media outlets covered the news, and to neutralize the pressure on Khamenei and his regime, they rushed to the scene with other allies of the mullahs to condemn the act.
The regime’s state-run Radio and Television News Agency reported that Yemen’s Ansarullah and the Syrian dictator’s foreign ministry condemned the listing. But Tehran, by sending its proxies to condemn Germany’s move, cannot hide its fear of the resumption of protests by the Lebanese and Iraqi people.
In the fall of 2019, when the protests of the Lebanese and Iraqi people escalated and then, in November 2019, arrived in Tehran and other Iranian cities, Tehran found the ground under its feet quite shaky. This time, the same rule will apply to protests and Iran’s proxy forces and allies. Dark days await Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Tehran’s inadequacy during the coronavirus era has added to the extent of these concerns.
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