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Riots in Lebanon as Hezbollah secures leadership

Protests turn violent after lawmakers nominate Hezbollah-backed prime minister.

The United States has indicated it might withdraw financial aid to any government led by Hezbollah, which it considers a terrorist organization.

"The larger the role played by Hezbollah in this government, the more problematic our relationship will be," said Philip Crowley, a State Department spokesman, according to Agence France Presse.

Changes in Lebanon’s government have also sparked concerns in Israel. Last fall, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad drew tens of thousands of supporters to Hezbollah rallies in southern Lebanon, near the border with Israel. In one speech, Ahmadinjad said Israel would one day “disappear.”

Analysts said Israel takes the Iranian threat seriously, and that Hezbollah leadership could further destabilize the region.

“On one level, a rising Hezbollah role could translate into a greater Israeli willingness to challenge Lebanon,” said Jeremy Pressman, a political science professor at the University of Connecticut, in an email. “At the same time, has Israel been shy about using force against Lebanon over the last 35 years across different Lebanese governments?”