Signs of Hezbollah’s weakening have already started to emerge. This past week, in an unprecedented challenge to the Party of God by residents of the South, shops in the city of Nabatiyeh, which Hezbollah prohibited from selling alcohol four months ago, have started selling liquor again.
People in the South expect Hezbollah to react forcefully to things like this. But this time it did not, and now one can find alcohol in Nabatiyeh, a major Hezbollah hub in the South.
Instead, Hezbollah forces attacked a store in the southern town of Houla for selling alcohol and tried to force the owner to close shop in an attempt to compensate for its defeat and humiliation in Nabatiyeh. However, members of the Communist Party, normally an ally of Hezbollah, intervened to protect the owner of the shop, also an unprecedented incident in the South, at least since the early 1980s.
Hezbollah has been hurt by the stupidity of its ally, Bashar al-Assad, whom the party’s local allies are beginning to question. With Assad’s actions, and with the sword of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon at its neck, the party is standing alone, bleeding. Not a pleasant situation for a party that is still more or less in control of Lebanon and its state institutions.