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Hard Times For Hezbollah

Hezbollah has had a rotten month.

It started with the generally positive reception generated by U.S. President Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo. Obama quoted the Koran and promised an evenhanded U.S. approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, into which Lebanon-based Hezbollah has injected itself.

A few days after Obama’s speech, Hezbollah was drubbed in the Lebanese parliamentary elections, which it had been expected to win. This left a generally pro-Western coalition in power and confines Hezbollah, at least for now, to state-within-a-state status.

Finally, and, for Hezbollah’s leaders, most alarmingly, Iran’s hardliners — who have sponsored Hezbollah financially and militarily for more than two decades — have been battling a popular backlash following alleged vote-rigging in that country’s presidential election. It is not clear whether the Iranian opposition is inclined to abandon Hezbollah, but the country’s support of the political and paramilitary organization has been a sensitive subject for years. Ordinary Iranians grumbled when their country underwrote Hezbollah’s $150 million reconstruction following the 2006 war with Israel at a time when Iran’s own economy was struggling.

Hezbollah has much invested in its relations with embattled Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whom it promptly congratulated after his purported electoral victory. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah wrote to Ahmadinejad that “Your reelection represents a great hope to all the oppressed people, holy warriors and resistance fighters.” A few days later, Iranian security agents were seen on smuggled Internet videos beating and shooting pro-democracy demonstrators. So much for bringing hope to oppressed people.

State sponsors of terrorism, and their clients, get paid big rials to deal with sticky situations like this. Whatever the problem, their job is to blame it on the BBC, America and, of course, Israel.

Which, incidentally, is why Obama’s reluctance to be drawn into Iranian politics makes so much sense, and the bombast coming from congressional Republicans makes so little. Of course the United States supports fair elections and the right of peaceful assembly, as Obama has said, but so what?

Iran’s rulers, and their friends at Hezbollah, would like nothing better than for America to cast its lot with the opposition, who can then be portrayed as Zionist lackeys. This would make the lives of Ahmadinejad and his backers much easier. Why would we want to do that?

Larry M. Elkin is the founder and president of Palisades Hudson, and is based out of Palisades Hudson’s Fort Lauderdale, Florida headquarters. He wrote several of the chapters in the firm’s book, Looking Ahead: Life, Family, Wealth and Business After 55. His contributions include Chapter 1, “Looking Ahead When Youth Is Behind Us” and Chapter 4, “The Family Business."

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