Hezbollah

Scoop: Pompeo warned Lebanon about covert Hezbollah missile factory

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri last month in Beirut. Photo: Jim Young/Pool/AFP

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned the Lebanese government during his recent visit to Beirut that Hezbollah and Iran have set up a new covert factory for precision missiles on Lebanese soil, U.S. sources briefed on the matter tell me.

Why it matters: The sources say Pompeo based his warning on intelligence he received from Israel. Israel is greatly concerned about Hezbollah's manufacturing of precision missiles but hasn't responded with military force out of concern that could lead to an all out war.

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Hezbollah makes gains as Lebanon forms new government

Lebanese premier-designate Saad Hariri speaks to the press in front of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon after the presentation of the closings arguments in the trial of four Hezbollah suspects
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in front of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon on Sept. 10, 2018, in The Hague. Photo: Bas Czerwinski/AFP via Getty Images

A 9-month political deadlock over the formation of Lebanon's new government has ended, resulting in a Cabinet in which Iran-backed Hezbollah has greater influence. The announced power-sharing agreement is unsurprising given Hezbollah’s strong electoral performance last May, when the predominantly Shiite organization and its allies seized the parliamentary majority from a loose coalition favored by the U.S. and led by returning Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

The big picture: While U.S. allies in Lebanon were able to impede Hezbollah’s ascendency through protracted negotiations, Hezbollah and its allies now control two-thirds of all key government ministries, with the militant group making further inroads into non-Shiite communities. Hezbollah is firmly entrenched in the Lebanese body politic and has grown into a regionwide fighting force on behalf of Iran, undercutting U.S. efforts to roll back Iranian influence.