HomeOpinionCommentaryWhat Do You Do for a Living… Hezbollah Edition

What Do You Do for a Living… Hezbollah Edition

Monday afternoon, news broke that Wafiq Safa, head of Hezbollah’s Liaison and Coordination Unit, was aboard a private jet heading to the United Arab Emirates. The purpose: to secure the release of Hezbollah members sentenced by UAE courts for terrorism. Analysts and the public alike were skeptical about the declared purpose of this trip, speculating that Iran and Hezbollah were attempting to establish back channels with Israel. This comes as Iran’s Lebanese proxy realizes that Israel is in the final stages of planning a full-scale assault against Hezbollah—a tragic scenario that could mark the end of Lebanon

To be honest, deciphering Safa’s UAE trip is not my primary concern, nor am I inclined to offer much respect or analysis to someone who has threatened Judge Tarek Bitar, the judicial investigator of the Beirut port explosion. However, what caught my attention is the fact that Safa was visiting a country which he and his Iranian-backed organization have consistently sought to undermine through verbal attacks, security plots, and the export of millions of dollars’ worth of drugs into a country with zero tolerance for narcotics. This has led the UAE to place Lebanon under an unofficial embargo.

I humorlessly pondered what Wafiq Safa would do if stopped by one of Dubai’s famous influencers or TikTokers, who often ask, “What do you do for a living?” Perhaps Hajj Wafiq might find himself at a loss for words. He could simply say he is “a hajj or a prince and does not have to work,” or he might read from the US Treasury List of sanctions that he “facilitates the passage of items, including illegal drugs and weapons, into the port of Beirut, Lebanon.”

Regardless, it is certain that Safa and the militia he represents, due to the brevity and urgency of their visit, will miss the opportunity to explore the United Arab Emirates and witness the colossal business and technology ventures that have transformed these young Arab Gulf islands from a desert into an oasis of progress and innovation. Meanwhile, Hajj Wafiq and what he stands for have, with the complicity of the Lebanese political establishment, succeeded only in turning Lebanon from a beacon of enlightenment into a narco-state trying to escape an ominous fate.

Enjoy your trip, Hajj.


Makram Rabah is the managing editor at Now Lebanon and a lecturer at the American University of Beirut, Department of History. His book Conflict on Mount Lebanon: The Druze, the Maronites and Collective Memory (Edinburgh University Press) cover collective identities and the Lebanese Civil War. He tweets at @makramrabah.