Hezbollah Dismantles Shebaa Farms Outposts

by Michael J. Totten

Hezbollah may have been hit harder than most of us thought. They weren’t soundly defeated or disarmed, to be sure. But the most recent development in Hezbollah’s post-war saga is frankly humiliating.

Hizbullah has dismantled 14 outposts on the Israel-Lebanon border near the Shaba Farms, Lebanese security sources said Monday.

Reportedly, the group evacuated the posts using trucks to carry artillery, other weapons and military equipment, while bulldozers blocked access to tunnels and bunkers.

Witnesses said that the vehicles laden with weapons and other military equipment were headed northward.

A French news agency reported that the Lebanese army had deployed troops along the border with Syria and that its soldiers had blocked routes used by weapons smugglers.

“Liberating” the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms was Hezbollah’s main excuse for holding onto its weapons after other militias in Lebanon disarmed after the civil war. Many, if not most, Lebanese recognized this as the bogus propaganda it was. Hezbollah needed to find some way to justify maintaining a militarily powerful state-within-a-state that refuses to answer to the government or the democratic majority. “Because we feel like it” just wouldn’t do.

When Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak withdrew his country’s occupation forces from Southern Lebanon in 2000, the United Nations painstakingly demarcated the border between Israel and Lebanon -- for the first time ever -- in consultation with authorities on both sides. Hezbollah did not raise the issue of Shebaa Farms, not even once, until after this process was finished, until after Israel, Lebanon, and Hezbollah agreed that the border had been properly defined.

The United Nations, and all the rest of the world, insists the microscopic Shebaa Farms area belongs to Syria and is part of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Syria refuses to say whether the land belongs to them or to Lebanon. That would ruin everything. If Syria formally cedes the Shebaa Farms to Lebanon, Israel will simply hand it over to Lebanon and undermine Hezbollah’s excuse to exist. If Syria says the Shebaa Farms is part of the Golan Heights, Hezbollah’s excuse to exist will simply be undermined by one of their own patrons and armorers.

So the charade continued for years. Hezbollah screamed, Syria dithered, Lebanon shrugged, and Israel scoffed. Now Hezbollah is being forced by the Lebanese government to dismantle their own military outposts along the border with Shebaa. Their “resistance” may not be finished. But it’s even less credible now than it recently was.