When President Trump lumped the Lebanese Hezbollah movement together with the Islamic State and al-Qaeda last week, describing Lebanon’s government as a partner in the fight against all of them, he might not have realized quite how complicated the situation in Lebanon is.
So on Saturday, Hezbollah took a party of journalists on a tour that helped explain, trumpeting the results of the militia’s recent fight against Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate in barren mountains near the northeastern Lebanese town of Arsal.
The arduous trek into the rocky terrain underscored the sway the Iran-backed Hezbollah exerts in Lebanon, where it remains the most effective and best-armed military force and retains the ability to strike at will almost anywhere in the country.
It also illuminated the complexity of the political and military landscape in Lebanon — a U.S. ally, whose government includes Hezbollah, which is in turn branded a terrorist organization by Washington. Whether the Trump administration can navigate the pitfalls of this complexity may determine if this tiny, relatively calm country can continue to escape the turmoil raging elsewhere in the Middle East.