MembersLebanon: Christian Cardinal Provokes Hezbollah

A single Christian leader looks poised to upset the balance of Mideast power and possibly, finally facilitate peace

By Aviel Schneider | | Topics: CHRISTIANS, Hezbollah, Lebanon
Lebanese Christian leader Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai has decided to take on Hezbollah.
Cardinal Rai has never been one to back down from a fight. Photo: EPA/SALVATORE DI NOLFI

Tackling the Shiite Hezbollah militia along Israel’s northern border in Lebanon takes courage. Few, if any, have much of that, and this has helped Iran’s allies gain political power in Lebanon over the years. Without Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, nothing happens in Beirut politics, and now a Maronite Christian Cardinal wants to put an end to this.

“We have to declare Lebanon as neutral and keep it out of the Middle East conflicts,” said Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Bechara Boutros Rai a few days ago. In practical terms what he meant was that Hezbollah should no longer be able to unilaterally decide to attack Israel, which always draws Israeli retaliatory strikes on Lebanon.

Cardinal Rai, 80, has been the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and the entire region since 2011. A third of the 3.1 million Maronite Christians live in Lebanon, a country with a total population of about 6 million people. Rai does not climb the political podium very often, but when he must, he is not afraid to speak boldly. In May 2014, the Lebanese cardinal...

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