From the Counterterrorism Blog:
[Lebanese] Defense, Interior, Telecommunications and Justice ministries would launch an “immediate” investigation into the creation of new telephone cables by Hizbullah.
The source, the Lebanese newspaper The Daily Star, writes this is not an isolated closed loop network:
“We have discovered by accident that a new telephone network is being created along that of the state in Zawtar Sharqieh,” [Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh] told Voice of Lebanon radio.
“Technical reports also showed that cables have reached Yohmor and other Tyre regions,” he added.
Hamadeh also said there was information that similar works were being conducted in Beirut and Dahiyeh.
The government describes this as violating state sovereignty. I am not familiar with the telecommunications market of Lebanon, but if it weren’t a group seeking the overthrow of the government, would the ministries be this upset if it were a normal privatization of infrastructure? Would they simply be upset at not issuing (or denying) permits and collecting associated fees (or bribes, again I don’t know the intricacies of the Lebanese telecom market)? In the American media system it’s like Google buying dark fiber, if Google was seeking to destabilize the government (see previous post on Google’s foreign policy). But Google isn’t outright trying to destabilize the US government.
One can already argue the Beirut government ceded some sovereignty to the private sector, in this case Hizballah, when they were slow to respond to the destruction of the recent war. Funny thing about governing people, but given the choice, they will choose and many are choosing Hizballah, which has been providing other infrastructure and social services in the absence of the government.
You have to ask yourself, what can be done to dissuade, or make unprofitable (in other than economic terms), Hizballah’s venture to own media distribution? The government must become a better provider across the board.