Here’s a dilemma, one that is similar to many Middle Eastern countries. Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy, effectively has the control of (or has the veto over decisions in) Lebanon. US aid to, military sales to and business with Lebanon effectively helps Iran consolidate control. But the only real tool at America’s disposal is to no longer deal with, sell to or aid Lebanon—sanctions. While this will be a blow to Lebanon’s economy, it will further consolidate Iranian control over the country.
What should the US do?
This is what someone at the INSS thinks:
Hezbollah currently has the advantage over its enemies in Lebanon. Its power and rule – direct and indirect – over events in the country are undisputed. At the present time, there is no political or military power able to challenge Hezbollah in Lebanon. Its power, however, can also be its weak point. Realization by the new United States administration that aid to Lebanon in effect constitutes aid to Hezbollah could lead to reconsideration of economic and military aid to Lebanon. This is likely to have a negative impact on the country’s economy and the stability of its institutions, and in turn could well arouse widespread unrest against Hezbollah and strengthen the opposition to it – with an emphasis on the radical Sunni element. This is currently a remote possibility, but developments in this direction are also liable to bring about a conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, should Hezbollah decide that such a conflict will be useful in the Lebanese theater. At the present time, Hezbollah is acting very cautiously and is unwilling to risk escalation with Israel or the destabilization of Lebanon. From Hezbollah’s perspective, its leading interest now is fortifying the Assad regime in Syria and strengthening the Iranian axis stretching from Tehran to Baghdad, Damascus, and Beirut.