Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A State Within A State

Amir Taheri writes in the London Times, reprinted online at NRO Online:

Hezbollah is a state within the Lebanese state. It controls some 25% of the national territory. Almost 400,000 of Lebanon’s estimated 4 million inhabitants live under its control. It collects its own taxes with a 20% levy, known as "khoms", on all incomes. It runs its own schools, where a syllabus produced in Iran is taught at all levels. It also runs clinics, hospitals, social welfare networks and centres for orphans and widows.

The party controls the elected municipal councils and appoints local officials, who in theory should be selected by the central government in Beirut. To complete its status as a virtual state, the party maintains a number of unofficial "embassies": the one in Tehran is bigger and has a larger number of staff than that of Lebanon itself.

Hezbollah also has its own media including a satellite television channel, Al-Manar (the lighthouse), which is watched all over the Arab world, four radio stations, newspapers and magazines plus a book publishing venture. The party has its own system of justice based on sharia and operates its own police force, courts and prisons. Hezbollah runs youth clubs, several football teams and a number of matrimonial agencies.

This is hardly proper democratic behaviour. Would the Democrats create its own army, a series of schools teaching with foreign syllabi (now be quiet, Ann!), embassies in other countries? Hiz'b'allah is a cancer.

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