Did you see the reports on the massive pro-Syrian Hezbollah rallies in Lebanon?

Many people were fooled by it.

Those not familiar with Lebanese politics could easily conclude that Syria is really not all that unpopular in the country.

After all, how could such large demonstrations in favor of Syrian occupation be accomplished if the Lebanese people were really united against their occupying neighbor?

The answer is simple: Many or most of those rallying in favor of Syria are not really Lebanese at all.

The untold story of Lebanon’s occupation is that Syrian troops represent only the most obvious part of it. For the most part, the Syrian troops wear uniforms – though thousands of intelligence agents, the most insidious and destructive force, do not.

But there is another occupying force in Lebanon today – tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of Iranians or Iranian-backed militiamen and civilians who have emigrated with the express purpose of using Lebanon as a base of operations and to establish an Iranian-style Shiite theocracy.

This invasion has been going on for 20 years – slowly but surely changing the demographics of the country.

There were always Shiites in Lebanon. But before the Iranian revolution, they were a peaceful people, easily assimilated into the country’s diverse population of Sunnis, Druze and Christians.

All that changed when the Iranians came.

They came with guns, ammunition, some 13,000 rockets and military advisers from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

They came with the purpose of using Lebanon as a base of terrorist operations against Israel.

They came to stay.

The whole world is calling on Syria to leave Lebanon after 30 years, but Syrians are hardly the only threat to the peace and stability of a future free Lebanon.

In the long term, the Iranians may represent a bigger threat.

It’s not sufficient to recognize, as most do, that Hezbollah is backed by Iran. The truth is that Hezbollah is a creation of Iran. And even if Syrian troops and intelligence agents leave Lebanon, it will still be an occupied nation until Hezbollah is dismantled and the Iranians – all of them – go home.

That pro-Syrian Hezbollah rally wasn’t just a peaceful show of “popular support” for Damascus. It was a show of force. It was a threat. It was designed to intimidate the Lebanese people who can’t trust their own Syrian-created army to protect them.

Even if the Syrians do leave lock, stock and barrel, they leave behind them a bigger, more well-armed contingent of Iranians.

These Iranians already have plans.

They are going to disrupt. They are going to intimidate. They are going to throw their weight around. They are going to establish their own rules. They are going to establish their own government. They are going to rule over any Lebanese people who get in their way. They are going to kill and main and kidnap. They are going to turn Lebanon into a seething cauldron of strife and mayhem.

Americans should be familiar with these people.

They were the ones responsible for the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 U.S. servicemen. They were responsible for the 1985 hijacking of a TWA flight in which an American serviceman was brutally beaten, killed and dumped on the tarmac. They were responsible for the kidnapping and assassination of American citizens in Lebanon – people like newsman Terry Anderson and CIA chief William Buckley.

It’s not just in the interests of the Lebanese people to clean out that hornet’s nest – it’s in the interest of the free world.

Lebanon will never be free as long as the Iranians sponsor their own proxy army as an additional occupying force.

I’m glad Hezbollah put on its little show of force this week.

Don’t be fooled by the waving of those Lebanese flags. They are not the flags normally waved by Iran’s occupiers. Instead, when the international cameras are turned away, the Iranians in Lebanon fly a yellow-and-green flag depicting a fist brandishing a Kalashnikov, posed against a globe and advocating “an Islamic Revolution in Lebanon.”

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