Hezbollah

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Hezbollah

حزب الله
Ḥizbu 'llāh
Secretary-GeneralHassan Nasrallah
Founded1985; 34 years ago (1985) (official)
HeadquartersBeirut, Lebanon
Ideology
ReligionShia Islam
National affiliationMarch 8 Alliance
International affiliationAxis of Resistance
Colours
  • Yellow
  • Green
Parliament of Lebanon
12 / 128
Cabinet of Lebanon
2 / 30
Party flag
Flag of Hezbollah
Flag of Hezbollah
Website
www.moqawama.org
Hezbollah
Participant in the Lebanese Civil War, Israeli–Lebanese conflict, South Lebanon conflict (1985–2000), 2006 Lebanon War, 2008 Lebanon Conflict, Syrian Civil War and the Iraqi Civil War (2014–2017)
Primary target in War on Terror
Active1985 – present
Group(s)
HeadquartersLebanon
Size20,000 to 50,000
AlliesState allies:

Non state allies:


See more
Opponent(s)State opponents:

Suprastate organizations opponents:

Non state opponents:

Battles and war(s) See details

Hezbollah (pronounced /ˌhɛzbəˈlɑː/;[30] Arabic: حزب اللهḤizbu 'llāh, literally "Party of Allah" or "Party of God")—also transliterated Hizbullah, Hizballah, etc.[31]—is a Shi'a Islamist political party and militant group based in Lebanon.[32][33] Hezbollah's paramilitary wing is the Jihad Council,[34] and its political wing is Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc party in the Lebanese parliament. Since the death of Abbas al-Musawi in 1992, the group has been headed by Hassan Nasrallah, its Secretary-General. The group is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel, Canada, the Arab League,[35] the Gulf Cooperation Council,[36][37] along with its military wing by the United Kingdom, Australia and the European Union.

After the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 in support of the Free Lebanon State, Israel occupied a strip of south Lebanon, which was controlled by the South Lebanon Army (SLA), a Lebanese Christian militia supported by Israel. Hezbollah was founded in the early 1980s as part of an Iranian effort to aggregate a variety of militant Lebanese Shi'a groups into a unified organization. Hezbollah acts as a proxy for Iran in the ongoing Iran–Israel proxy conflict.[38] Hezbollah was conceived by Muslim clerics and funded by Iran primarily to harass the Israeli occupation.[5] Its leaders were followers of Ayatollah Khomeini, and its forces were trained and organized by a contingent of 1,500 Revolutionary Guards that arrived from Iran with permission from the Syrian government,[39] which was in occupation of Lebanon at the time. Hezbollah's 1985 manifesto listed its objectives as the expulsion of "the Americans, the French and their allies definitely from Lebanon, putting an end to any colonialist entity on our land", submission of the Phalangists to "just power" and bringing them to justice "for the crimes they have perpetrated against Muslims and Christians", and permitting "all the sons of our people" to choose the form of government they want, while calling on them to "pick the option of Islamic government".[40]

Hezbollah waged a guerilla campaign in South Lebanon and as a result, Israel withdrew from Lebanon on 24 May 2000, and the SLA collapsed and surrendered. Hezbollah organised volunteers who fought on the Bosnian side during the Bosnian War.[41] Hezbollah's military strength has grown so significantly[42][43] that its paramilitary wing is considered more powerful than the Lebanese Army.[44][45] Hezbollah has been described as a "state within a state",[46] and has grown into an organization with seats in the Lebanese government, a radio and a satellite TV station, social services and large-scale military deployment of fighters beyond Lebanon's borders.[47][48][49] Hezbollah is part of the March 8 Alliance within Lebanon, in opposition to the March 14 Alliance. Hezbollah maintains strong support among Lebanon's Shi'a population,[50] while Sunnis have disagreed with the group's agenda.[51][52] Hezbollah also finds support from within some Christian areas of Lebanon that are Hezbollah strongholds.[53] Hezbollah receives military training, weapons, and financial support from Iran, and political support from Syria.[54] Hezbollah and Israel fought each other in the 2006 Lebanon War.

After the 2006–08 Lebanese protests[55] and clashes,[56] a national unity government was formed in 2008, with Hezbollah and its opposition allies obtaining eleven of thirty cabinets seats, enough to give them veto power.[33] In August 2008, Lebanon's new Cabinet unanimously approved a draft policy statement which recognized Hezbollah's existence as an armed organization and guarantees its right to "liberate or recover occupied lands" (such as the Shebaa Farms).[57] Since 2012, Hezbollah has helped the Syrian government during the Syrian civil war in its fight against the Syrian opposition, which Hezbollah has described as a Zionist plot and a "Wahhabi-Zionist conspiracy" to destroy its alliance with Assad against Israel.[58][59] It has deployed its militia in both Syria and Iraq to fight or train local forces to fight against ISIS.[60][61] Once seen as a resistance movement throughout much of the Arab world,[32] this image upon which the group's legitimacy rested has been severely damaged due to the sectarian nature of the Syrian Civil War in which it has become embroiled.[47][62][63]

History

Foundation

After the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, Israel occupied a strip of south Lebanon, which was controlled by the South Lebanon Army (SLA), a militia supported by Israel. Hezbollah was conceived by Muslim clerics and funded by Iran primarily to harass the Israeli occupation.[5] Its leaders were followers of Ayatollah Khomeini, and its forces were trained and organized by a contingent of 1,500 Revolutionary Guards that arrived from Iran with permission from the Syrian government,[39] which was in occupation of Lebanon at the time.

Scholars differ as to when Hezbollah came to be a distinct entity. Various sources list the official formation of the group as early as 1982[64][65][66][67] whereas Diaz and Newman maintain that Hezbollah remained an amalgamation of various violent Shi'a extremists until as late as 1985.[68] Another version states that it was formed by supporters of Sheikh Ragheb Harb, a leader of the southern Shia resistance killed by Israel in 1984.[69] Regardless of when the name came into official use, a number of Shi'a groups were slowly assimilated into the organization, such as Islamic Jihad, Organization of the Oppressed on Earth and the Revolutionary Justice Organization[citation needed]. These designations are considered to be synonymous with Hezbollah by the US,[70] Israel[71] and Canada.[72]

1980s

Hezbollah emerged in South Lebanon during a consolidation of Shia militias as a rival to the older Amal Movement. Hezbollah played a significant role in the Lebanese civil war, opposing American forces in 1982–83 and opposing Amal and Syria during the 1985–88 War of the Camps. However, Hezbollah's early primary focus was ending Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon[5] following Israel's 1982 invasion and siege of Beirut.[73] Amal, the main Lebanese Shia political group, initiated guerrilla warfare. In 2006, former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak stated, "When we entered Lebanon … there was no Hezbollah. We were accepted with perfumed rice and flowers by the Shia in the south. It was our presence there that created Hezbollah".[74]

Hezbollah waged an asymmetric war using suicide attacks against the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israeli targets outside of Lebanon.[75] Hezbollah is reputed to have been among the first Islamic resistance groups in the Middle East to use the tactics of suicide bombing, assassination, and capturing foreign soldiers,[39] as well as murders[76] and hijackings.[77] Hezbollah also employed more conventional military tactics and weaponry, notably Katyusha rockets and other missiles.[76][78] At the end of the Lebanese Civil War in 1990, despite the Taif Agreement asking for the "disbanding of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias," Syria, which controlled Lebanon at that time, allowed Hezbollah to maintain their arsenal and control Shia areas along the border with Israel.[79]

After 1990

In the 1990s, Hezbollah transformed from a revolutionary group into a political one, in a process which is described as the Lebanonisation of Hezbollah. Unlike its uncompromising revolutionary stance in the 1980s, Hezbollah conveyed a lenient stance towards the Lebanese state.[80]

In 1992 Hezbollah decided to participate in elections, and Ali Khamenei, supreme leader of Iran, endorsed it. Former Hezbollah secretary general, Subhi al-Tufayli, contested this decision, which led to a schism in Hezbollah. Hezbollah won all twelve seats which were on its electoral list. At the end of that year, Hezbollah began to engage in dialog with Lebanese Christians. Hezbollah regards cultural, political, and religious freedoms in Lebanon as sanctified, although it does not extend these values to groups who have relations with Israel.[81]

In 1997 Hezbollah formed the multi-confessional Lebanese Brigades to Fighting the Israeli Occupation in an attempt to revive national and secular resistance against Israel, thereby marking the "Lebanonisation" of resistance.[82]

Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO)

Whether the Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO) was a nom de guerre used by Hezbollah or a separate organization, is disputed. According to certain sources, IJO was identified as merely a "telephone organization",[83][84] and whose name was "used by those involved to disguise their true identity."[85][86][87][88][89] Hezbollah reportedly also used another name, "Islamic Resistance" (al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya), for attacks against Israel.[90]

A 2003 American court decision found IJO was the name used by Hezbollah for its attacks in Lebanon, parts of the Middle East and Europe.[91] The US,[92] Israel[93] and Canada[94] consider the names "Islamic Jihad Organization", "Organization of the Oppressed on Earth" and the "Revolutionary Justice Organization" to be synonymous with Hezbollah.

Ideology

Back in the 1980s, the ideology of Hezbollah was described as radical. It is presented in the 1985 manifesto. The first objective was fighting against American and Israeli imperialism, freedom of the occupied Southern Lebanon and all other occupied territories. The second objective was to gather all Muslims in the concept of ummah; then Lebanon would continue the 1979 Revolution of Iran. It also declared it would protect all Lebanese communities except the ones which collaborated with Israel, and supported all national movements—Muslim or non-Muslim—throughout the world. The Ideology has been changed, and today Hezbollah is a left-wing political entity focused on social injustice.[95]

The ideology of Hezbollah has been summarized as[according to whom?] Shi'i radicalism;[96][97][98] Hezbollah follows the Islamic Shi'a theology developed by Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.[99] Hezbollah was largely formed with the aid of the Ayatollah Khomeini's followers in the early 1980s in order to spread Islamic revolution[100] and follows a distinct version of Islamic Shi'a ideology (Valiyat al-faqih