Newsweek | January 26, 2011
By Christopher Dickey

The militia wins a power struggle in Lebanon, but opts for stability rather than confrontation.

Lebanese protesters burn picture of Najib Mikati, Lebanon's new PM (source: The Guardian)

If Hezbollah weren’t so smart, it wouldn’t be so dangerous. This Shiite militia, created by Iran and backed by Syria, has never had a problem using force, naturally. It has been on the State Department list of terrorist organizations since the 1980s. Its guerrillas fought Israel to a standstill in 2006. Two years later, they took to the streets in Beirut to protect, not least, their business interests. But now that Hezbollah is in a position to govern—a position it got to through constitutional maneuvering—it’s not acting like the overbearing Party of God so much as an éminence grise preferring to rule from the shadows.

Hassan Nasrallah, the black-turbaned mullah who leads Hezbollah with fiery rhetoric and cold political calculation, declared that “the greatest lie is that Hezbollah wants to seize the state and the government.” As if to prove the point, the new prime minister that Hezbollah installed is an urbane, Harvard-educated Sunni billionaire, Najib Miqati. He served as the head of a “consensus” government six years ago and says he’d like to do the same today.

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