Tweet from Um Ali, December 3, 2019. The appended text reads, "America destroyed every person and the economy of the entire country."
Demonstration in front of the government offices in Nabatiyeh to protest the difficult economic situation in Lebanon (NBN TV, October 20, 2019).
Drivers struggle to fill containers and bottles with fuel (al-Khalij Online website, November 30, 2019).
People waiting to get gas at an al-Aytam gas station (Bint Jbeil website, December 2, 2019).
- Hezbollah’s propaganda accused the demonstrators of causing chaos and possibly leading the country to a civil war. Hezbollah supporters threatened the “thugs” and “terrorists” who blocked the roads leading to Beirut’s southern suburb (the Dahia), and the highway linking Beirut to the south, thereby imposing a “siege” on the [Shi’ite] population living there. Hezbollah also initiated a campaign claiming that the United States and its allies were behind the protest demonstrations, which automatically delegitimized them. On the ground there were instances in which road-blocking demonstrators were attacked by Hezbollah (and Amal) supporters, but no prolonged frontal confrontation developed.
- Although Lebanon is in the midst of an economic and governmental turmoil and the government is in chaos, routine daily life apparently continues in the Hezbollah-controlled Shi’ite regions. Generally speaking, Hezbollah successfully prevented the protests from leaking into its “state within a state,” with the exception of isolated demonstrations in Nabatiyeh, Tyre and possibly also the Beqa’a Valley. A case study of how Hezbollah preserved daily life in the regions under its control occurred at the end of November 2019, when the Lebanese Syndicate of Gas Station Owners went on strike and closed the gas stations throughout Lebanon (threatening to worsen the existing chaos). However, Hezbollah prevented the spread of the strike to the areas under its control by keeping its own gas stations open.
- Keeping its gas stations open was a demonstration of Hezbollah’s power, intended to increase its popularity among the Shi’ites, and in Lebanon in general. It was accompanied by a media campaign in which Hezbollah supporters presented the many benefits of living in what Hezbollah supporters called “the State of Hezbollah.” Hezbollah supporters, with inspiration from the organization, said that the operation of the gas stations illustrated that in “the State of Hezbollah” civilian institutions continued operating and the residents enjoyed security and employment, as opposed to the chaos in other regions of Lebanon.
|“Hezbollah will cause some of the corrupt people in this country to have a heart attack. The gas stations strike in order to rob citizens, while the [Hezbollah-owned] al-Amana stations are open for everyone to use. The banks hold people’s money to rob them, [while] the al-Qard al-Hasan [Hezbollah’s semi-bank institution] continues to give [loans in] dollars. The minister of education closes the schools to close the country, [while] all [Hezbollah’s] schools are open! #together#breaking#themonopoly” (Twitter account of Eman Bashiri, November 29, 2019).|
Tweet about the benefits to the residents of “the State of Hezbollah,” who can continue their daily routines since the gas stations remained open.
- This report contains the following sections:
- The wave of protests in Lebanon: Overview
- Hezbollah’s position on the protests
- Opposition to blocking the roads
- Anti-American propaganda campaign
- Hezbollah’s fundamental interest in preserving the sectarian regime in Lebanon
- Conduct of “the State of Hezbollah” during the protests
- Keeping the gas stations open: A test case for preventing the crisis from leaking into areas under Hezbollah control
- The gas stations in Lebanon go on strike: Background information
- The gas stations owned by Hezbollah and its affiliates
- Hezbollah gas stations break the strike
- Hezbollah supporters’ enthusiastic support for breaking the strike
 For further information, see the May 23, 2019 bulletin Hezbollah’s socioeconomic foundations: Al-Qard al-Hasan, a quasi-bank that provides interest-free loans, mainly to members of the Shi'ite community." ↑