Protesters, allied to LebanonÕs Hezbollah-led political opposition, burn tires, old cars and block streets in the capital Beirut on May 7, 2008. A general labor strike was called for by labor unions demanding pay increases. Sporadic gun-fire was heard throughout the capital as well as clashes between rival political groups. The airport was also closed. (UPI Photo) | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- With Syrian-proxy Hezbollah gaining a foothold in Beirut, Washington should call on Damascus to step in line for the benefit of the region, an analyst says.
Hezbollah lawmakers gained ground in the Lebanese government, securing Cabinet positions along with its allies in the March 8 opposition alliance in Beirut.
David Schenker, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, writes the emergence of Hezbollah as a political force indicates Damascus has "regained the upper hand in Lebanon."
Meanwhile, Israel and its Western allies point to the growing arsenal of Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon, accusing Iran and Syria of funneling weapons to its Shiite proxies.
Schenker accuses U.S. President Barack Obama, who on Thursday accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, of negligence in the rise of Hezbollah.
"To date, the Obama administration appears to have done little to stem the tide, but given the stakes, Washington should act quickly to reverse the trend," he says.
Schenker calls on the Obama administration to urge Damascus to step away from its regional meddling or risk further isolation.
"Washington should make it clear to Damascus that in addition to undermining stability in Iraq, continued Syrian meddling in Lebanon -- and Syria's ongoing support for Hezbollah -- will prevent a U.S.-Syrian rapprochement," the scholar suggests.