Lebanon's powerful Hezbollah militia, which is locked in a political standoff in Beirut over key legislation, embroiled in the Syrian conflict and on alert for possible military skirmishes with Israel, may have yet another challenge to deal with. A previously unknown group, Liwa al-Mazlumin (Brigade of the Oppressed), has reportedly posted flyers in Beirut's southern suburbs decrying the absence of effective governance and policing. Since Hezbollah has long controlled the area, the act is clearly meant as a criticism of the Shiite militant group.
In particular, Liwa al-Mazlumin is aggrieved by the lack of efforts to combat the widespread use of narcotics and other drugs in Lebanon, especially among young people. Hezbollah has been unwilling to confront the groups that control the illicit narcotics trade in Lebanon because its involvement in the Syrian conflict has stretched its forces thin. Furthermore, the militant organization also profits from transnational drug trafficking through the Bekaa Valley, where the groups operate.
So far, the new group's protests are focused locally, but they could have widespread regional implications. If Liwa al-Mazlumin manages to challenge Hezbollah's control in southern Beirut, the militant group may have to turn its attentions from Syria and Israel to work on quelling dissent in its stronghold and preventing adversaries from exploiting its vulnerability.