By Mayssa el khazen, Islamic radicalism first erupted in Lebanon following the 1979 Iranian revolution and 1982 Israeli invasion.  These two events marked the start of Hizbullah, a movement that would acquire the support of the Lebanese Shiaa and that would take on a crucial and defining post in Lebanese politics.  Hizbullah, meaning the Party of God and backed by Iran, emerged to become an important and pivotal force in Middle Eastern politics in general and particularly in Lebanese society.  Amal, a Shiaa movement which means

II) Background:

            In order to understand the roots and rise of the Hizbullah, it is crucial to comprehend the society structure within Lebanon and observe how the Shiaa’s undermining led to the creation and rise of a movement which spoke up for this underrepresented community in Lebanese politics.  The nature of the rise and struggle of Hizbullah through history helps us better in understanding the reasons behind the need of the creation of the Party of God and the role they are seeking to have in Lebanon.    

The Shiites of Lebanon:

Since the 19th century, the Shiites of Lebanon were situated in the South and later also moved to North Lebanon.  Shiites fought hard for tens of years to keep the South a free region.  In fact, since the 17th century, they fought wars mostly against the Ottoman rulers who committed horrible massacres against their community.

After the founding of the independent Lebanese state in 1943, the Shiite were the third largest community after the Maronite Christians and the Sunni Muslims.  In the Lebanese constitution, they were accorded the second political office as the speaker of the parliament.  In practice, however, they exerted little influence influence in Lebanese politics.  In the government, they were largely underrepresented in senior appointments.  In addition illiteracy and poverty was widespread amongst the Shiaa community.  Until the 1940s, most Shiaas were agricultural workers.  In the 1950s and 1960s, as education, mobility and the increased access to communications grew, political mobilization was essential for the Shiites.  Moreover, as agriculture was modernized and the Shiite population grew, many moved to Beirut.  However, as the Palestinians were expelled from Jordan in 1970, Yasser Arafat and members of the PLO settled in Beirut and Shiite-majority southern Lebanon and establishing a de facto state-within-a-state area.  Soon after, local Palestinians – mostly Sunnis – began fighting with Shiites over limited resources.[1]  Also, as the PLO attacked Israel from Lebanon’s southern border, Israelis retaliated by invading and furthering causalities amongst Shiites.  Moreover, during this time period, Shiites were relatively deprived in comparison to members of other sects, receiving inadequate access to social services and negligible government attention. [2] 

It was in this environment that a charismatic Iranian-born Shiite cleric of Lebanese descent, Musa Sadr launched a reform movement, harakat al-mahrumin (the Movement of the Deprived). By 1974, the Movement had attracted tens of thousands of Shiite.  During the period of pre-civil war Lebanon, Sadr also created afwaj al-muqawamah al-lubnaniyyah (the Lebanese Resistance Detachments), also known as Amal, a secular reformist movement that rapidly improved social, economic and political conditions for the Lebanese Shiite community.[3]  However, in 1978, during a trip to Libya, Sadr disappeared and speculations rose that he was murdered by his hosts. 

The rise of Hizbullah:

At this point, four main events occurred in 1978 that benefited to the emergence of Hizbullah.  First, after the strange disappearance of Sadr, members of Amal became even more alienated from the rest of the Lebanese.  Hence, the marginalization of the Lebanese Shiite community and its under representation in the government was a driving motive for the need to reform.  Second, in southern Lebanon, growing conflict and anger amongst Shiite with the armed Palestinian forces, who treated the population roughly and exposed them to Israeli attacks through their military actions, arose.  Furthermore, in 1978, when Israel invaded Lebanon, the Shiite felt they needed protection against the deadly Israeli-Palestinian cross-fire.  Hence, due to the Israeli-Palestinian war fought on Lebanese soil, the Shiite felt obligated to radicalize, and armed themselves mainly turning into militants to protect the Shiite community of Lebanon.  Thirdly, and most importantly the Iranian revolution in 1979 and Ayatollah Khomeini’s victory against the shah’s regime in 1979 provided proof to the Shiites in Lebanon that they could similarly attain power.  And fourthly, the turning point for the official creation of Hizbullah was the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon.  Following the invasion, president Sarkis called for the creation of the Council of National Salvation (CNS) which led for the end of Iranian support for Amal when head of the movement Nabih berri joined the council in order to increase the Shiite’s representation despite Iranian’s objection.  Consequently, Iran decided to form a new movement that would better represent its interests in Lebanon and export its radical Islamic ideology.[4]  Amal then split into a secular faction, headed by Nabih Beri (now speaker of Lebanon’s parliament), and an increasingly radical religious branch, led by Hussein al-Musawi and backed by the spiritual leader Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah to form Islamic Amal – which received military, financial and spiritual support from Iran – and eventually came to be known as Hizbullah.

Hizbullah after 1982:

After Israel launched “Operation Peace for Galilee” in 1982 which was intended to end PLO incursions into Israel, Hizbullah emerged as a force and became a military channel for activism among radicalized and war-torn Shiites in Lebanon.              Their top clerics were instructed in Najaf, the southern Iraq shrine city where the exiled Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini once spread his radical anti-Western and revolutionary doctrines before toppling the Shah and setting up the Islamic Republic of Iran in 1979.  Khomeini’s radical Islamic worldview and inspiration provided Hizbullah its own vision: establishing an Islamic republic in Lebanon, to be ruled by shari’a law.[5]  Also in association with Iran, the organization’s agenda reached beyond Lebanon to the defeat of any power standing in the way of Islam, especially the US and Israel. Its ideology combined a strong social message with a universal political goal, to be realized by revolutionary means also known as a Jihad.

 On April 18, 1983, the U.S. embassy in Beirut was blown up by a suicide bomber. Sixty-one people were killed and 120 wounded. Six months later, on October 23, the headquarters of the U.S. Marines and those of the French forces in Beirut were also blown up. Two hundred thirty-nine Marines and twentythree French soldiers were killed; another hundred were injured. A week later, on November 4, 1983, Israeli Army headquarters in Tyre was hit. Twenty nine soldiers and members of Israel‘s General Security Service were killed; tens more were wounded. Responsibility for the strikes was claimed by an unknown organization calling itself Islamic Jihad, but it soon became clear that it was the military wing of Hizbullah which used a different name to avoid taking direct responsibility.[6]

These suicide attacks marked a new phase in the campaign fought by Syria and its allies in Lebanon against the Israeli and Western presence there. As a result of these incidents, the US and France withdrew from Lebanon in late 1984 and Israel in 1985 pulled back to a selfdeclared security zone in South Lebanon. [7]  In addition, these strikes marked the Shiites turnabout.  From a submissive and obedient minority, it had recreated itself into a fundamental force waging a dynamic struggle to gain dominance in Lebanon and, in Hizbullah’s case, to achieve a more extensive and important goal: establishing an Islamic regime. 

Hizbullah’s doctrine:

            After the 1982 Israel invasion, Hizbullah strongly established itself as a mass movement.  The Hizbullah leaders agreed on their goal of establishing an Islamic regime in Lebanon, modeled on Iran, as a step toward founding one united Islamic state to include the entire Muslim world.  As Husayn al Musawi, affirmed in 1984: "We are faithful to Imam Khomeyni politically, religiously and ideologically. In accordance with Khomeyni’s teaching we strive to fight all manifestations of corruption and vanity in this world, and all who fight the Muslims….Our struggle is in the east as well as the west….Our goal is to lay the groundwork for the reign of the Mahdi on earth, the reign of truth and justice."[8]  In February 16, 1985, its leadership released its doctrine in an open letter.  “We are proceeding toward a battle with vice at its very roots,” declared the letter, “and the first root of vice is America.”  In addition, the organization stated that "we regard ourselves as a part of the Muslim people of the world," and that "the supreme triumph in Iran was to bring about the re-establishment of the nucleus of the great Muslim state in the world."[9]  The letter set four objectives for the movement: the termination and eradication of all American and French influence in Lebanon; Israel’s complete departure from Lebanon as a start to its complete extinction and the liberation of Jerusalem; submission of the Lebanese Phalangists to “just rule” and trial for their “crimes” against the Muslims and Christians committed with the backup of Israel and the USA ; and granting the people the right to choose their own system of government, without hiding their commitment to the rule of Islam and calling the nation to choose an Islamic regime, which alone can assure justice and honor for all and foil any attempt at renewed imperialist infiltration of our country.[10]  Fadlallah, Hizbullah’s spiritual leader, also openly states that he intends to make Lebanon an Islamic state in which minority nonbelievers will have three options: adopt Islam; pay Jiziah (the poll tax) while “utterly subdued”; or face war.[11]  Nevertheless, the organization’s efforts at moderation and even practicality in the internal Lebanese context are evident in the platform, as it says the intention is to persuade the residents of Lebanon rather than to force them to accept an Islamic regime; “If our compatriots are given the opportunity to freely choose a system of government for Lebanon they will prefer Islam, and therefore we issue a call to adopt the path of Islam out of free and direct choice of the people, and not by means of coercion.”[12] 

            The organization’s structure also shows how Hizbullah’s ideology is manifested in Lebanon and Lebanese politics. From the very start of its activity, Hizbullah tried to give itself an image of an organization based on broad and spontaneous support in Lebanon. One characteristic was the establishment of a hierarchical organizational infrastructure, similar in many ways to the Iranian revolution.  This is most apparent in regard with the decisive role clerics play in leadership.  Spiritual leader Muhammad Hussain Fadlallah serves as a source of inspiration and guidance.  In addition, the Advisory Council (Majlis alShura) of religious sages headed by the Secretary General of the organization, Hassan Nasrallah. The Advisory Council is supplemented by the executive committee in charge of political and organizational activities. Secondary to the committee are other executive bodies, including a political bureau and cultural, educational and financial committees.

However, as the political structure in Lebanon took a new phase after the end of the civil war in 1990 and left the nation with a very fragile and sectarian system of representation, a major issue to examine in regard to Hizbullah’s true objectives is the extent to which Hizbullah leaders will adjust their strategy and tactics to fit the Lebanese reality.  There are two main factors that need to be taken into account to understand why Hizbullah needs to alter their objective if they want to maintain popularity.  First, Lebanese society is not homogenous but rather a mixture of communities. Historical experience shows clearly that no single community can subordinate the others. This is due to the communities own internal social structure and political system, limited political and military practical power.[13]  Hence, any attempt by one community to strengthen its own standing at the others’ expense is liable to cause them to unite against it.  Thus, the communities have no choice but to coexist no matter how hard that may be.  Second, Hizbullah does not enjoy majority support even among the Shiite community. Most studies show that, at most, 20-25% of the community supports Hizbullah, with Amal favored by more than 30%.[14] 

The challenges and struggles along the road:

            Despite Hizbullah’s success in gaining both fame and reputation, they became confronted with a number of challenges which were pausing a threat to its existence and jeopardizing its continued activities.  First and foremost was the signing of the Taef accords on October 22, 1989 which marked the end of the civil war and set the foundation for a new Lebanese order under Syrian influence.  The Taef accords involved a change in the distribution of positions of political power among the Lebanese sects. The agreement stipulates equality between Muslim and Christian delegates in parliament.  It leaves the presidency to the Maronites, but extends the authority of the Sunni prime minister and the Shiaa speaker of parliament, making their power equal to that of the president.[15]  In essence, the accord constituted a new formula for coexistence among different communities replacing the old National Covenant of 1943.  However, like its predecessor, the Taef accord is a Maronite Sunni compact for these two groups to maintain control over the society and state.[16]  Second, the resulting Taef accord benefited only Sunnis and Maronites under Syrian patronage. The Shiites were only given minor compensation of a formal elevation of the status of the Shiite Chairman of the Parliament to that of the Maronite President and the Sunni Prime Minister.  Further, restoration of sectarian conflict involved a return to the political system where battles would be waged by words in parliament rather than by force of arms.[17]  Traditionally, the Shiites had been weak there, and it was certainly not Hizbullah’s area of specialty.  Amal had the advantage. Also, once a practical government and stable society surfaced, Hizbullah’s alternative of revolution and of an Islamic state seemed more distant and less attractive.  Hence, directly after signing the Taef accord, Hizbullah made its reservations and clarified its opposition to it.  One of them which demanded the disarming of all militias was met by all groups except Hizbullah who still, up to date, remains armed.  Also, Iran’s funding has been cut sharply because of their weakened status due to internal difficulties.[18] 

Hizbullah after the Taef Accord:

Faced with those new challenges, Hizbullah seemed prepared to take a more practical approach.  Despite its continued criticism of the taef agreement, they came to accept its rules in practice by taking part in the 1992 parliamentary elections and winning eight seats in the Bikaa Valley and gaining support from another four successful candidates.[19]  However, Hizbullah leaders continued criticizing the Taef from within.  Fadlallah announced that he “does not regard Lebanon as a state, but rather as a collection of political islands maintaining their positions of power and authority"[20]  He also claimed that "the Taef agreement was born of an American decision, wrapped in an Arab `aqal [headband] and a Lebanese tarboosh [hat]" and does not reflect the Lebanese people’s will.[21]

In addition, Hizbullah’s leaders have begun laying the ideological foundation for a shift from armed struggle to parliamentary maneuvering which is shown by Fadlallah’s 1994 book endorsing Islamic and Christian dialogue (Afaq alHiwar alIslami al Masihi).[22]  And when Hizballah Secretary-General Nasrallah was asked about Hizballah’s ties to Iran and long-term goals, he replied: “The solution, in our opinion, is the establishment of an Islamic state in Lebanon and beyond, but this does not mean we must be hasty and impose such a solution by force on our country and countrymen….We prefer to wait for the day that we succeed in convincing our country men by means of dialogue and in an open atmosphere that the only alternative is the founding of an Islamic state."[23] 

Therefore, Hizbullah has in practice distinguished between long-term goals that remain unaltered and day-to-day policy which has profoundly changed to let it function in today’s Lebanon.  However, the organization may not be able to completely withdraw itself from its radical world view, thereby provoking various powers in Lebanon, or it may distance itself and may loose its strength and base of support.  Amal’s relatively greater popularity among Lebanese Shiaas seems likely to grow at Hizballah’s expense.

The continuing struggle against Israel:

            Despite the end of the Lebanese civil war, Hizbullah did not stop its continuing struggle and fight against Israel.  In a local level, Hassan Nasralla has proclaimed the party’s commitment in “eradicating the Zionist entity on the soil of Palestine” and that the struggle against Israel will not cease even if a peace agreement is reached.[24] 

The intensification of Hizbullah’s operation against Israel to the point where it threatened the security zone’s existence has led Israel to step up efforts against the organization in recent years. A soaring point of Israeli operation was in 1992 when Israeli helicopters killed Hizbullah leader Abbas Musawi as he proceeded in a demonstration. Hizbullah responded by bombing Israel‘s embassy in Buenos Aires in March 1992, intensifying attacks from Lebanon, and shooting Israeli communities in the northern Galilee. This led to Operation Accountability in the summer of 1993, during which Israeli artillery shelled Shiite villages in southern Lebanon forcing hundreds of thousands of residents to flee north to Beirut. Israel‘s intention was to use massive air power to cause indirect pressure on the Beirut government and thereby on the Syrian regime as well, to put constraint on Hizbullah. By the end of Operation Accountability, an unstated understanding between Israel and Hizbullah was reached with the U.S. and Syrian help demanding that Hizbullah cease attacks on northern Israel and in turn, Israel would not fire at Lebanese civilian areas or Hizbullah targets located in them.[25]

However, in January 1994, in an effort to effectively counteract Hizbullah’s activity, Israel‘s air force repeatedly attacked a Hizbullah training camp in `Ayn Dardara and leaving dozens of casualties. Hizbullah responded with strikes against the Jewish community center building in Buenos Aires and the Israeli embassy in London. Hizbullah managed to sustain a balance of terror against Israel which, alongside the latter’s reluctance to bring too much pressure on Beirut for fear that talks with Damascus be slowed, efficiently limited Israel’s retaliations, as even the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin admitted.[26]

These Israeli limitations and a lack of progress in the Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations allowed Hizbullah to continue powerfully the struggle against Israel. When Israel, fed up responded, and particularly when Lebanese civilians were hit, Hizbullah shelled Israel, portraying itself as protector of the Lebanese population. Hizbullah’s escalation led Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres in April 1996 to initiate Operation Grapes of Wrath, following the model of Operation Accountability of July 1993 by launching an assault and air-campaign against Hezbollah. The campaign failed and resulted in the Israelis killing more than 100 civilians in one incident alone.  Hence, this operation also ended with an achievement for Hizbullah which had to commit itself again to not attack Israel itself but whose right to attack Israeli forces in the security zone was recognized in writing.[27]

            In January, 2000, Hizbullah assassinated the commander of the South Lebanese Army Colonel Aql Hashem.  In retaliation, the Israeli air force striked at a series of infrastructure targets, including power stations at Baalbeck, Deir Nbouh and Jambour.  Following this year, in May of 2000, Israel finally took the decision to withdraw from South Lebanon.  The withdrawal was largely seen as a victory for Hizbullah and boosted its popular support.  However, the move did not end the conflict because Hizbullah still claims the Shebaa farms-still controled by Israel- to be a Lebanese area.[28] 

            Israel continues occasionally to overfly Lebanese territory and violates UN’s resolution.  On November 7, 2004, Hizbullah responded to these Israeli violation of Lebanese airspace by flying an unmanned drone aircraft over northern Israel for the first time and showing off their capabilities.

Hizbullah’s present standing in Lebanese Politics:

            In the general elections of 2005, Hizbullah won 23 seats (up from eight previously) in the 128-member Lebanese parliament.  The group is headed by Sayyed Hassan Nasralla and is largely financed by Iran and Syria, although it alsoraises funds itself through charities and other activities.  In addition since the end of the Israeli occupation, they have been involved in building schools, clinics and hospitals for the welfare of the Shiaas. 

II)Discussion/ Analysis:

            After a thorough description of Hizbullah’s emergence and gradual rise, it is crucial to analyze and discuss Hizbullah’s main role in Lebanon.  However, in order to fully be accurate in doing so, one has to view things from both Hizbullah’s perspective and Lebanese Shiaas’ supporters.  One has to understand and captivate the motives from within in order to imply Hizbullah’s aims in Lebanon.  In addition, to be fully unbias, it is also necessary to observe what both opposeurs and suporters’ arguments.  Consequently, I will be able to take a rational approach and provide a possible answer and solution to the role of Hizbullah in Lebanon.  The question to examine, whether Hizbullah’s role is crucial for Lebanese security against Israel and other Western influence, or merely an excuse to remain armed to exercice more influenc in Lebanon, must be analyzed by taking into account the “raison d’etre” of the movement from its rise to the present.  I will divide this section into four main points that needs to be addressed; first, Hizbullah’s impact and force since its existence, second, Hizbullah’s issues concerning disarnment,  and the Islamic state, and third, Hizbullah’s image vis a vis the international community,

Hizbullah’s impact:

            It is obvious that Hizbullah has become one of the realities of Lebanon and the region.  Although Hizbullah did not turn everyone in its favor and change everything as desired, they however, fought and resisted many wars and made its way to the hearts of possibly as many as half of Lebanon‘s politically active Shiites.  Hizbullah played an influential role in forcing foreign forces out of Lebanon and continued a tireless campaign against Israel in the south.  It had provided some service to Islamic Iran by its abductions of foreigners and had also secured the release of many of its own imprisoned members.  It has earned the respect of friends and the fear of enemies.  And above all, “it had initiated a return to Islam — a gradual process of inner transformation whose results no one could predict.”[29]  Hence, Hizbullah’s impact in Lebanon has been huge as it became extremely popular with a large number of Shiites and caused a legitimate fear against enemies.  Since the upswing of the resistance activities after the implementation of the Taef accord, the Israelis have tried unsuccessfully containing Hizbullah by carrying out two large scale attacks in July 1993 and April 1996.  These strikes were meant to put pressure on the Lebanese government to make it control the resistance.  However, nothing came out of it as it furthered Hizbullah’s determination to continue attacks on Israel if Lebanese civilians continued to get wounded.  After the attacks, Secretary-general Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah proudly concluded that:

“[The Israelis] wanted to weaken Hizbollah, and Hizbollah came out stronger. They wanted to reinforce the idea that Hizbollah are terrorists. They wanted to make a split between the people and the resistance. But the resistance is now more popular than ever. They wanted to create internal unrest in Lebanon, but we experienced national solidarity here that we haven’t seen in 30 years. The failure of the enemy is our victory. Had it not been for the massacre of women and children, we would have the right to rejoice, but because of them we have to say that this is a sad victory”[30]

Hence, Nasrallah’s speech shows how Hizbullah has not been affected by Israeli strikes and how it has gained power and determination to avenge the civilian casualties.  They retaliated with even more purpose making themselves as the protectors of Lebanon against Israel. 

            Nonetheless, Hizbullah’s ideology has taken a new turn as Lebanese politics have clearly changed especially after the withdrawal of the Syrian troops in May of 2005.  As Fadlallah put it, a new phase should be reached, a more realistic and pragmatic one that can finally be accepted worldwide; “the new phase which should now be reached is the normalization of relations with the rest of the world.”[31]  Hizbullah began to approach a new tactic for gaining support.  In Lebanon, it became more committed to grass-roots social activism and more willing to substitute the slogan of democracy for the slogan of revolution.[32] In addition, they started to act as a political party, not as revolutionaries, and gained success. They began to ask for a general referendum on the question of an Islamic state and started to portray itself as a champion of democracy; the “Party of God began to evolve slowly into a political party, a hizb, whose clerics spoke more like candidates.”[33]  In short, Hizbullah’s impact both in and out of Lebanon has had a huge success and increased support as the group started taking a more realistic approach in Lebanese politics and turning more toward dialogue as a legitimate party in Lebanon. 

Hizbullah’s various issues:

Hizbullah faces many controversial issues both within the group and with other Lebanese critic who questioned Hizbullah’s ideology and purpose especially after the Israeli withdrawal in 2000 and thus threatening its “raison d’etre.”  It is argued that Hizbullah, whether its goal was to free Lebanon from the occupier or gain popular support, has been accomplished and there is no need anymore for it to cause fear by refusing to disarmed and maintaining that their ultimate goal is that of an Islamic state.  It’s current and future being has come in question both by Hizbullah itself and by critics.  Hizbullah engaged itself in its own soul-searching quest.  “Pressured to undertake a strategic shift, it faces the decision whether its future is one among many Lebanese political parties or whether it will maintain the hybrid nature, half political party and half armed militia, part local organization and part internationalist movement, that has defined it from the outset.”[34]


            After the end of the Lebanese civil war and the implementation of the Taef accord, Hizbullah remains the only armed “resistance” in Lebanon.  Their refusal of disarmed has provoked concern both at a national and international level.  However, the sensitivity of the arms subject increases since Hizbullah is a religious group and in a sectarian country like Lebanon, with one group bearing arms and the others not, it is creating a lot of tension between sects.  Hence, it can be drawn out that the refusal to disarm is due to the reason that these weapons are being used politically to force a certain position in Lebanon.  In addition, Hizbullah’s support for one occupier (Syria) and hatred toward another (Israel) raises question amongst Lebanese that Hizbullah is being unfair and one sided.  This, in turn, raises the amount of fear amongst other sects and hence, solidifies the country’s sectarian nature.  At a national and local level, the reason for the call of disarmament is mainly fear that in a highly sectarian country, one day these weapons could be used against other Lebanese sects.  In addition some argue that it is against the law and feel uncomfortable that a militia with a radical Islamic ideology can exercise so much power. 

However, supporters would argue that Hizbullah’s refusal to disarm is due to its continuing struggle against Israel and Western influence.  It goes beyond the Lebanese worry to the international level.  First they claim that the Shebaa farms are a Lebanese territory which is still occupied by Israel.  Also, they still fear Israeli attacks and want protection.  Second, they cannot be sure that after disarmament, that the Lebanese army will deploy in the South and protect the Shiite community since in the past they have been continuously undermined and oppressed.  Furthermore, they have contested that disarming should solely come from Lebanese decision making and not international pressure such as the USA.  If they disarmed at this level, they would consider it degrading. Hizbullah cannot afford to dishonor itself in this way and especially to accept disarmament due to the US, the biggest backup of Israel, would constitute a humiliation that they could not accept since honor and pride is their biggest value.    

2-Islamic state as Hizbullah’s ideology?:

            This issue constitutes a growing concern among Lebanese Christians fearing fanaticism and other seculars in favor of a civil law.  Hizbullah first emerged with a clear goal in mind; that of an Islamic revolution similar to that of Iran that would purify Lebanon into the right path again.  The reason why Shiites felt the need of an Islamic revolution in Lebanon was mainly due to the civil war and the collapse of the state and the resulting violence which had taken a tremendous toll on the Shiites, producing demographic, social, and economic dislocations that dwarfed the simple discrimination suffered by Shiites elsewhere.  A large number of Shiites had been made into poor refugees, in a country without a functioning state, in a capital city without operational municipalities and services.[35]  Hence, they viewed an Islamic state necessary in Lebanon to bring it back into the right path.  Therefore, the demand of an Islamic state in Lebanon is a growing concern in Lebanon especially by Christians.  However, Hizbullah leaders have states that their stances have been readjusted to fit the Lebanese political system.  And as earlier noted, Nasrallah openly stated that they would like an Islamic state but only with the consent of the Lebanese.  Hence they affirmed that an Islamic state would not be forced for it is the right of the people to choose whichever state they would like.  In addition, they recognize the pluralist nature of Lebanon and at present, they do not elaborate as much anymore into the question of the Islamic state.  Hence, some believe that it has altered its ideology into a more pragmatic one that would fit the political realities of Lebanon and not of Iran.  Key figures in Hizbullah have recognized that the pluralist nature of the Lebanon state may make it impossible for them to attain their “ultimate” goal and hence have to adjust it in order to maintain their very existence.

3-Hizbullah vis a vis the US and Israel:

            In the principles of Hizbullah, Israel is abomination.  In contrast, while the United States is viewed as an opponent and is disliked for its support of Israel, Hizbullah’s secretary general has stated that the United States is not a target for attack.[36]  Leading officials, including the head of the Political Bureau have clandestinely explored prospects of dialogue with the US.  However, Israel’s strikes of 1996 also known as the "Grapes of Wrath" characterized Israel as evil in the eyes of many Lebanese, and especially the Shiite.  In particularly, Israel‘s massacre by the shooting of more than 100 civilians in the U.N. base in Qana has stimulated even more hatred for the Jewish state.  In addition, Hizbullah continue to regard the US as a dictatorial country trying to impose its principles toward the rest of the world.  After the invasion of Iraq, many have come to show stronger opposition to such a force who gives itself the right to decide what is right and what is wrong.  Furthermore, America’s role as the world police and strong support for Israel is creating more resentment.  Also, America’s notion of democracy is wrong in the eyes of Hizbullah as a high ranked Hizbullah cleric recently examined that the US only cared for its own selfish interest and when it comes to others, they impose whatever they think is the right form of democracy.  For instance, they demand Hizbullah to obey the UN’s resolution and disarm while Hizbullah argues that even Israel is not implementing all of UN’s resolution and that this is unfair and represents injustice.  Therefore, in order to be successful, the U.S. should put more effort toward an overall, positive vision of the region’s future.  If the U.S. wants sympathy and resentment, they ought to renounce from references to forceful regime change in Syria or Iran.[37]  For instance, it could present Damascus its notion of a fair and lasting Israeli-Syrian peace, even if its implementation cannot be immediate.  This would constitute a good start for better understanding between not just Hizbullah and the USA but also with the entire Islamic world.  Moreover, Increasingly, Hizbullah officials have highlighted their desire for a dialogue with the US.

Hizbullah’s role in Lebanon:

            Hizbullah’s rise since 1982 has made it a fearful group both locally and internationally.  After examining Hizbullah’s gradual rise, its struggle for achieving its goals from a way or another and its place in Lebanese politics, one can ponder about its real role in Lebanon; whether Hizbullah is crucial for Lebanese security against foreign forces particularly Israel or whether it is an excuse to remain armed and exercise more power in Lebanon.  However, I view that Hizbullah’s cause lies further into the nature of the Lebanese state rather than securing Lebanon from Israel and/or exercising more power.  After observing and analyzing thoroughly Hizbullah from various different scholars and sources, I come to see their role as a method of protection and stand for the Lebanese Shiites.  It is the sectarian Lebanese environment that has led groups like Hizbullah to emerge due to the fact that every sect feared the other and had to mobilize in order to protect itself.  In addition the past has shown how oppressed the Shiites were and hence they do not want this to happen again now that they have gained valuable strength.  In addition in 2000-2001 Hizbullah’s social services included but were not limited to: 56 hospitals with a total number of beneficiaries of 409,281 around the Bikaa Beirut and South Lebanon, provided 10582 students with education aid, between token, financial and scholarships, and 10 schools between South Lebanon, Bekaa and Beirut.[38]  Thus, Hizbullah has a social structure of a welfare government that could not just disappear the next day and which is not provided by the Lebanese government.  It can also be said that Hizbullah’s refusal to disarm is for Shiites self-defense against two threats; first, their internal possible marginalization by the sectarian government, and second, possible aggression by Israel.  Hence, because in the past Shiites were always alienated and defenseless, they started trusting Hizbullah who provides for them more than the Lebanese government ever did.  Thus, Hizbullah’s role is mainly protection by any oppressor.  Its role is to protect itself and live in absence of fear from other sects in Lebanon.  Its role is to show the world that they have emerged as a force that can no longer be oppressed but can stand out to their rights.  Its role is the right treatment of Shiites in the South and guaranteed security of their land.  Its role is the role of any community that feels threatened and undermined by others.  As long as national unity within Lebanon is not reached, sectarianism will prevail and fear between one sects and another will live on.        

III) Conclusion:

            In this paper, my point was to observe Hizbullah’s emergence and struggle from various sources in order to reach an unbiased understanding of Hizbullah’s role in Lebanon as opposed to, from one hand, calling them a terrorist organization like the USA and Israel do, and from the others, labeling them as a Lebanese resistance that only strives for the greater good of Lebanon.  As discussed in the paper, neither is true.  One has to observe both the good and the bad that a group has done if one wants accuracy.  Using various literature references, I started describing Hizbullah’s rise by first looking into the history of Lebanese Shiites.  Then I followed by describing its emergence from 1982 to the present while observing the group’s doctrine, challenges and struggles until present day Lebanon.  Next I started analyzing Hizbullah and engaged in a controversial debate regarding arms, both ideology and international stances.  Finally I was able to reach a rational understanding of Hizbullah’s role in Lebanon; that the role of Hizbullah in Lebanon is first and foremost that of a group wishing to make themselves strong and stable in Lebanon as to avoid future undermining.  In addition, the State of Lebanon has to compete with the standards that Hizbullah is providing to its community, thus Hizbullah’s social welfare structure is one that needs to be integrated into a new Lebanese government’s model that works on providing services and guarantees the progress of the nation they claim.  Right now, to many Shiaas, Hizbullah is the alternative to the Lebanese government that has done nothing for the well being of the Lebanese Shiaas.  Finally, it can also be drawn that Hizbullah’s role lies both in protecting Lebanon from Israel and in remaining armed to exercise more influence in Lebanese politics to maintain their very existence.  At the end, Sectarianism is the biggest problem which contributed to radicalism; dialogue and integration between various Lebanese sects in order to reach for national unity which is key for mutual understanding and acceptance of coexistence.  Lebanese have to stop living in fear from one another and unite in order to create a legitimate government with one strong Lebanese army for the whole populace.  When Hizbullah will be convinced that they will not be in danger anymore and will be provided full rights as Lebanese citizens, and only then they will step down.                  





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[1] Avi Jorisch, “Beacon of Hatred,” Chapter 1, P. 6

[2] Avi Jorisch, “Beacon of Hatred,” Chapter 1, P. 7

[3] Avi Jorisch, “Beacon of Hatred,” Chapter 1, P. 7


[4] Avi Jorisch, “Beacon of Hatred,” Chapter 1, P. 7

[5] Middle East Digest, “Backgrounder: The Party of God,”  (April 1999) Vol 10 No 4

[6] Martin Kramer, “The Moral Logic of Hizballah,” Occasional Papers No. 101

[7] Eyal Zisser, “Hizballah in Lebanon: at the Crossroads,” (Middle East Review of International Affairs) Vol.1 No.3

[8] AlKifah al`Arabi, 9 January 1994

[9] Hizballah, Nus alRisala alMaftuha alati Wajjahaha Hizballah ila alMustad’afin fi Lubnan wal`Alam (Beirut: February 1985), pp. 56

[10] Martin Kramer, “Hibullah in Lebanon.”

[11] Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, “Islamic reflections on Minority Status,” Al-Muntalak, nos. 81-82 (July 1991): 10.

[12] Hizballah, Nus alRisala alMaftuha alati Wajjahaha Hizballah ila alMustad’afin fi Lubnan wal`Alam (Beirut: February 1985), p19

[13] Kamal Salibi,  A House of Many Mansions (London: I. B. Tauris, 1988).

[14] Augustus Richard Norton, "Lebanon: The Internal Conflict and the Iranian Revolution," in John L. Esposito (ed.), The Iranian Revolution Its Global Impact (Miami: Florida International University, 1990), p. 126

[15] Eyal Zisser, “Hizballah in Lebanon: at the Crossroads,” (Middle East Review of International Affairs) Vol.1 No.3

[16] Eyal Zisser, “Hizballah in Lebanon: at the Crossroads,” (Middle East Review of International Affairs) Vol.1 No.3

[17] Eyal Zisser, “Hizballah in Lebanon: at the Crossroads,” (Middle East Review of International Affairs) Vol.1 No.3

19N. Hamzeh, "Lebanon‘s Hizballah: From Islamic Revolution to Parliamentary Accommodation", Third World Quarterly 14/2 (1993), p 328



[19] William B. Harris, "Lebanon", in Ami Ayalon (ed.), MECS 16 (1992) (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1994), p 598-608

[20] Al`Ahd, (Beirut) 8 April 1994.

[21] Eyal Zisser, “Hizballah in Lebanon: at the Crossroads,” (Middle East Review of International Affairs) Vol.1 No.3

[22] Al-`Ahd, 10 April 1994; Interview with Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah, Middle East Insight, 10/6 (September-October 1994), pp. 18-22

[23] Al-`Ahd, 26 August 1994.

[24] Eyal Zisser, “Hizballah in Lebanon: at the Crossroads,” (Middle East Review of International Affairs) Vol.1 No.3

[24] William B. Harris, "Lebanon" in Ami Ayalon (ed.) MECS 17 (1993) (Boulder, Co: Westview Press, 1995), pp. 527-8.


[26] Ha’aretz, 2, 3, May, 16 December 1995.

[27] Operation Grapes of Wrath, TIME Magazine – April 22, 1996 Volume 147, No. 17

[28] Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. “Hezbollah” (

[29] Martin Kramer, “Hizbullah: The Calculus of Jihad”

[30] Interview in Time Magazine, 13th May 1996.

[31] Interview with Fadlallah, La Repubblica (Rome), 28 August 1989.

[32] Martin Kramer, “Hizbullah: The Calculus of Jihad”

[33] Nizar Hamzeh, "Lebanon‘s Hizballah: From Islamic Revolution to Parliamentary Accommodation," Third World Quarterly 14 (1993): 321-37.

[34] “Hizbollah: Rebel without a Cause?” Middle East briefing N.7, 30 July 2003

[35] Martin Kramer, “Hizbullah: The Calculus of Jihad”

[36] Augustus Richard Norton, “Hizballah: From Radicalism to Pragmatism?”

[37] “Hizbollah: Rebel without a Cause?” Middle East briefing N.7, 30 July 2003

[38] Ahmad Nizae, “Path of Hezbollah,” P 50-59