The Judiciary in the Hands of a Supremacist Militia

This article was originally published by This Is Beirut on 9 June 2024. The original can be found here.

By Dr. Amine Jules Iskandar President of the Syriac Maronite Union – Tur Levnon

As Lebanese society has grown indifferent to accusations of “collaboration with the Zionist enemy,” Hezbollah has shifted its focus to the new hot topic of the 2019 popular uprising: corruption. Every target it aims to undermine is now accused of this offense. Its political, media and legal apparatus promptly mobilizes to fabricate the necessary files to expedite its downfall.

In an article published in December 2023, we highlighted the military tribunal’s use as a tool to silence any opposition to Hezbollah’s theocratic regime. Now, it appears that elements within some judicial bodies have also been co-opted into serving the Islamist, fascist and supremacist agenda of this militia.

From Takhuinism to Corruption

To subdue or compromise businessmen, persecution is carried out through the fabrication of corruption cases. Often mimicking takhuinism (accusation of treason) tactics, proof of innocence may ultimately be attested, and legal exoneration may be attained after several months. However, this extended timeframe is plenty enough to destroy the individual, their company or their institution. Such extended harassment can lead to the social, professional or even physical demise of the person, as was the case with Michel Mecattaf in March 2022. His company, once a major player in overseeing the flow of US dollars to and from Lebanon, has now been supplanted by the parallel and illicit network managed by Hezbollah and its affiliated mafias.

The same pattern has been observed in other sectors of the food industry. Companies that once held a significant portion of the market in certain areas have collapsed, making way for the rise of new enterprises directly linked to Hezbollah. The process is consistent: every food company takes inventory of its stock to sort out expired products. These items are then isolated until they are disposed of. At this point, infiltrated employees alert the relevant ministry, which steps in to seize the goods, arrest the owner and close down the factory. The victim is defenseless against a meticulously coordinated effort involving undercover employees, ministry officials, law enforcement, Hezbollah-affiliated media and a justice system that is either loyal to or influenced by the party.

The Case of Wooden Bakery

On May 28, the owner of Wooden Bakery, Assaad Bou Habib, was arrested in similar circumstances: a sudden uncovering of allegedly expired wheat stockpiled at one of its branches in Bekaa. He was imprisoned for five days under inhumane and often life-threatening conditions, while law enforcement attempted to not only seal the relevant branch, but the entire company and its main factory.

Different samples from every wheat category used by Wooden Bakery were sent to the laboratory for analysis and were confirmed to be clean. However, despite these findings, the prosecutor did not release the results after having publicly tarnished the company’s reputation, leading to a drop in its revenue.

Such a stark contrast with the case of spoiled chocolate and cereals seized in the southern region during that same week, where the offenders escaped scrutiny and their identities were kept anonymous. What a stark contrast with the case of the forged signature by Minister Mohammad Fneich’s brother. This forgery used to dispose of unlicensed medications on the market went with zero consequences. Yet again, what a stark contrast with the case of the missing newly printed fiscal stamps by a State that couldn’t care less about their whereabouts.

Market Monopoly

Through such operations, the chicken market and other food products have managed to fall into the hands of Hezbollah-affiliated families. Likewise, the pro-Iranian party has gained control over American dollar transactions across Lebanon. Unless there’s a serious awakening and a coordinated, effective response, bread will be next in line. In the absence of such action, a businessman or company unaffiliated with Hezbollah will no longer take the risk to invest in Lebanon.

Before going after Assaad Bou Habib’s bakery, Hezbollah’s apparatus zeroed in on Paul Mansour’s flour mills. Moreover, a significant number of businesses operating legitimately across various sectors such as marble, ceramics, iron and ready-to-wear have already closed down due to unfair competition from Hezbollah supporters, who are exempt from taxes, social charges and customs fees.

Hezbollah is not solely focused on instigating a geographical and demographic transformation in Lebanon, but even more so, on triggering a cultural and economic shift. By stifling any prospects of developing or sustaining business activity in Lebanon, Hezbollah is eradicating job opportunities and forcing the youth to immigrate. The Shiite party is consolidating its dominance across all sectors of the economy, education, healthcare, finance and justice, undermining all existing structures in favor of its parallel system.

Post 2019 Revolution

The takhuinism tactic accusations are effective when it comes to putting sovereign figures behind bars. On the other hand, it has become less effective in socially ostracizing them through slander and dishonor. Since 2019, the political awakening that has arisen built a barrier against such accusations, which are currently being mocked. Meanwhile, the 2019 Revolution instilled a deep aversion to any form of corruption. As such, Hezbollah’s media-legal apparatus shifted its focus on this new reality.

In this context, every accusation of corruption stirred up by its media outlets is swiftly echoed across all platforms, including those of the opposition. As such, the latter is inadvertently contributing to the humiliation and isolation of the victim, who will fall and surrender, handing over another sector of the economy into the hands of the Islamist, fascist and totalitarian regime, whose sectarian dominance has become blatant. Oftentimes, the fact that the chosen target – who will become the prey and the victim – is at the helm of an empire, will guarantee the downfall operation’s optimum profit.

This media-judicial-mafia apparatus orchestrates these actions at carefully spaced intervals, targeting one victim at a time to avoid arousing suspicion and thwarting any potential solidarity. It has gone after the “Zionists,” but elicited no reaction, as they were not Zionists. It targeted the “ultra-conservative Christians,” yet no one reacted as they were not ultra-conservative. It caused the demise of the “super-rich,” but no reaction either, as they are not super-rich. It lashed out at the “corrupt ones,” but again, no one reacted as they were not corrupt. Lebanon is dying due to the overall collective apathy.