Different Perspectives

August 23, 2012

Hezbollah’s Military Wing

There are many perspectives within the Middle East about Hezbollah. These perspectives vary from person to person when they presuppose what Hezbollah is, who it symbolizes, and what it’s achieving.

As I have explained, Hezbollah is a loose federation of Shi’a and incendiary groups which emerged as a response to foreign military occupation of Lebanon in 1982. It evolved into an umbrella organization that coordinates the operations of what were otherwise a detached aggregation of preexisting Shi’a tribes and social groups. Hezbollah may have began as a militant Shi’ite group fighting Israeli occupation in Southern Lebanon, but over time it has developed into a political and social movement as well.

In 2001, Hezbollah entered into nation building. The organization started to provide a lot of services that the Lebanese state was unable to offer including public schooling, the running of hospitals and healthcare, and even garbage collection. Then in 2011, Hezbollah formed its own government. It was a state within a state. Eventually, Hezbollah brought down the government of Saad Hariri, the son of the assassinated former prime minister, to become the dominant force in national politics.

Hezbollah has been a recipient of financial assistance from Syria for years, and Hezbollah has been an instrument of the Syrian government. If President Bashar al-Assad’s regime falls, what will that mean for Hezbollah?

Assad is very important for Hezbollah strategically, because the Syrian regime gives Hezbollah its ability to rearm after a conflict with Israel. Should the Syrian government fall, Hezbollah could cease being a long term threat to Israel. This could severely hurt its credibility and popularity within Lebanon and abroad. Once it loses its popularity, how long could Hezbollah continue to dominate the Lebanese state?

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