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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Hezbullah steps into vacuum left by Lebanese government

It's been two months since the war in Lebanon ended, and Fouad Siniora's government has not yet gotten its act together to start rebuilding homes destroyed in the war. Today's London Sunday Telegraph reports that - no surprises here - Hezbullah has stepped right into the vacuum:
Within hours of the August ceasefire, the group's reconstruction wing, Jihad al-Binaa ("Holy struggle for construction"), began distributing aid and American dollars to displaced civilians.

Regardless of religious or political affiliation, residents whose homes had been destroyed were given up to £6,500 to find alternative accommodation.

Mr Siniora's government announced last week details of its compensation package, promising 80 million Lebanese pounds (£30,000) per household. But the delay has set back the battle for hearts and minds.

The southern Beirut suburb of Dahiyeh has become a hive of activity as labourers from Jihad al-Binaa busy themselves in the new "struggle". In homage to their benefactors, residents have draped Hezbollah's yellow flags around the neighbourhood.

Judith Harik, a former professor of political science at the American University of Beirut, said the group's repeated clashes with Israel meant it had become adept at reconstruction. "There is a fear of government ineptitude," she said. "Hezbollah, on the other hand, has a record of constructing low-cost houses quickly, so it comes out smelling of roses."
What's Siniora waiting for? An engraved invitation?


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