KHIAM, Lebanon — When Mercy Corps and other Western aid agencies reached this devastated village on the front line of the battle between Israel and Hezbollah with food and medicine, they quickly discovered they had a big problem: the United States. Like all other international relief agencies here that receive financing from the American government, Mercy Corps is barred from giving out money or aid through Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group that is considered a terrorist organization by the United States. But as with all the most demolished areas in southern Lebanon, where whole villages have been flattened by Israeli bombs and there is no food, water or electricity, this village is the domain of Hezbollah - and little seems to bypass the group. That fact is nettlesome for the United States, not merely because it does not want Hezbollah to be strengthened even further after its war with Israel, but because it is eager to find and support a viable alternative to the militant group. That will not be easy. Hezbollah has been the fastest and, without a doubt, most effective organization doling out aid to the shattered towns and villages of southern Lebanon. Aid groups […]

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