Admittedly, I know very little about the ongoing conflict betwen Israel and Lebanon, besides knowing that it has a long and sordid past. But my understanding, albeit from biased media and blogger reporting, is that the problem is with Hezbollah, a terrorist organization, that intentionally hides in and fights from heavily populated areas, and not so much with the 'official' Lebanese government. Now it seems possible that Hezbollah could have lost the "PR" campaign, so to speak, as a result of putting so many civilians in harms way. But in today's NY Times there's an article about how Hezbollah is helping to rebuild Lebanon, and in the process gaining a lot of favor with the average Lebanese citizen.
So my question is, what happened to the 'official' Lebanese government, and why is it considered essentially absent and ineffective? And, if the international community is serious about getting involved in this conflict (whether or not it/we should is a topic I'm not prepared to offer an opinion on) why isn't it going about it from the side of propping up and supporting the Lebanese government, in the way that Iran is (allegedly) supporting Hezbollah?
While the Israelis began their withdrawal, hundreds of Hezbollah members spread over dozens of villages across southern Lebanon began cleaning, organizing and surveying damage. Men on bulldozers were busy cutting lanes through giant piles of rubble. Roads blocked with the remnants of buildings are now, just a day after a cease-fire began, fully passable.
In Sreifa, a Hezbollah official said the group would offer an initial $10,000 to residents to help pay for the year of rent, to buy new furniture and to help feed families.
Hezbollah’s reputation as an efficient grass-roots social service network — as opposed to the Lebanese government, regarded by many here as sleek men in suits doing well — was in evidence everywhere. Young men with walkie-talkies and clipboards were in the battered Shiite neighborhoods on the southern edge of Bint Jbail, taking notes on the extent of the damage.
“Hezbollah’s strength,” said Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a professor at the Lebanese American University here, who has written extensively about the organization, in large part derives from “the gross vacuum left by the state.”
Hezbollah was not, she said, a state within a state, but rather “a state within a nonstate, actually.”