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      Israel’s New Neighbor: Hizbullah

      Hizbullah scores a bloodless coup to become Israel’s new political neighbor to the north, but the shadows of civil war stalk Beirut’s streets.
      By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
      First Publish: 1/25/2011, 2:57 PM / Last Update: 1/25/2011, 3:11 PM

      Hizbullah scored a bloodless coup Tuesday and is set to become Israel’s new political neighbor to the north, but the shadows of civil war stalk the streets of Beirut.

      The Lebanese parliament gave billionaire banker Najib Makati, a solid majority of 68-60 to replace caretaker Prime Minister Sa'ad Hariri, backed by Hizbullah. Makati claimed he was not beholden to the terrorist party. Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah insisted that Hizbullah will not lead the government, but the terrorist organization's political party has been increasingly pulling Lebanon's political strings the past several years.

      Legislators voted as violence swept Beirut, threatening to re-kindle the flames of civil war that wracked the country for 15 years from 1975 to 1990. Hizbullah’s huge terrorist army and widespread political organization have changed the face of Lebanon, where it already is a state-within-a state from the Litani River to Israel’s border.

      The IDF has reported no incidents at the border in the past several days, but soldiers are on alert. By coincidence, several brigades of soldiers are in the midst of training in the Golan Heights.

      Riots broke out in Beirut and in the northern port city of Tripoli in a “day of rage” declared by Hariri’s supporters. The Lebanese army struggled to re-open major roads that were blocked with tires and vehicles set on fire by Sunni Muslims, who fear Hizbullah’s Shi’ite rule even though Makati is a Sunni. One of the vehicles torched had been carrying Al Jazeera journalists. CNN reported that rioters threw rocks at its reporters in Beirut.

      Several gunshots were heard as Makati called for calm, saying he wants to “rescue my country.”

      Hizbullah’ political coup comes several days after a United Nations tribunal turned over to a Belgian judge a sealed envelope with the indictments of Hizbullah leaders suspected of being involved in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was fiercely anti-Syria. His son Said has forged an alliance with Damascus but apparently was outflanked by the Iranian-Syria-Hizbullah axis.

      The choice of Makati puts the finishing touches on Hizbullah’s initial political coup two weeks ago, when it toppled the government by pulling out of the coalition. A Hizbullah-controlled government is expected to denounce the U.N. tribunal’s conclusions.

      Makati’s victory is another Middle East setback for the United States, which warned Lebanon it might face a cut in aid if the terrorist party were officially to take control of Lebanon, which it already dominates with the assistance of Syrian President Bashar Assad and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.