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Hezbollah And The Imf

A strange pairing indeed, but today's NYT suggests that European finance officials are talking to Lebanon's Party of God about continuing economic support to the country even if Hezbollah beats the relatively pro-Western Sunni-based coalition in next month's elections. As the Times notes, Joe Biden sang a different tune on his visit to Beirut last week, suggesting that the U.S. would curtail aid if the Hezbollah Shiites prevail, in what would be a clear victory for Iran.

It's a dilemma. No one is eager to provide financial aid to a government dominated by an anti-Western militant group. On the other hand, cutting off Western aid might only make Lebanon more dependant on Iranian largesse, while weakening the strong financial sector that helps to keep Beirut cosmopolitan, semi-European, and a bulwark against theocracy. 

Update: The IMF now seems to be doing some spin doctoring, denying that it negotiated with Hezbollah, while conceding that it regularly meets with various political parties in Lebanon, of which Hezbollah is definitely one. 

--Michael Crowley