Hezbollah

Hizb’Allah means Party of God in Arabic. There are groups naming themselves « Hezbollah » in various Islamic countries. The best known « Hezbollah » is a Lebanese Shia political movement created in June 1982 with the help of Iran as a reaction against the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. It quickly became the main military organisation fighting against Israel in the South of Lebanon (see Israeli security zone in south Lebanon). It is also, alongside Amal, the most important social organisation in predominantly Shia regions.

Since the killing of Sheikh Abbas Mussawi by the Israeli army on 17 February 1992, Hezbollah is headed by Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah. At the outset, it was financed by Iran but the bulk of its financing now comes from its social base’s fundraising.

Hezbollah entered the new Lebanese Parliament elected after the implementation of the Taif agreement with the elections of March 1992 and won eight seats in the new parliament (four from the Bekaa, two from the southern suburbs of Beirut and two from the South of the country).

The Hezbollah never stopped harassing the SLA and the Israeli occupation forces in South Lebanon, and the unconditional Israeli whithdrawal from the area in May 2000 has considerably boosted the popularity of this resistance mouvement which is also a major player in the Lebanese political life. And the elections in 2000 have confirmed the Hezbollah’s entrenchment in the Lebanese political landscape, even if this party had, under pressure from Syria, to collaborate with Amal, the pro-syrian Shia movement, and create common electoral lists. Being the main cause for the withdrawal of the Israeli army from South Lebanon in May 2000, Hezbollah could well have achieved a hegemony in the South Lebanon’s councils.

With the exception of a small stretch of territory which Israel and Lebanon still dispute (namely the « Chebaa Farms », at the border of the annexed Syrian Golan Heights), Hezbollah has ceased its military activities to become once again, essentially, a socio-political movement.

In 2004, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1559 which Article 3 requires the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias in Lebanon. Hezbollah refused to implement it until the Lebanese army to be able to protect south Lebanon.

In the elections of 2005, Hezbollah received 11% of the vote, while his political group « Resistance and development bloc » gets 27.4%. He joined for the first time to government in July of that year by getting the ministry of Energy. Hezbollah is positioning itself for a national dialogue without interferences from external powers.

A year later, on July 12, 2006, the Hezbollah militia in southern Lebanon carried out the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers. The response was immediate and triggered an open conflict which ended thirty-three days later by resolution 1701 of the Security Council. During the war, the arsenal of Hezbollah appeared extended, which many attribute to support from Iran and Syria.The cost of the battle for Hezbollah is more important than it seems, damages are enormous, many of the Lebanese infrastructures are destroyed, bridges, roads and villages. 1180 people were killed in Lebanon and 160 in Israel.

The conflict has raised controversy about the role of the Party of God. In Lebanon, few believe the war has been decided unilaterally and mostly provoked by Hezbollah. Yet the popularity of the party and especially its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, goes on growing throughout the Arab world and among the Lebanese population. Despite its accointances with Iran and its original ambitions of an Islamic state, Hezbollah is seen not as an Islamic movement but as a resistance movement, and enjoys the support of broad sectors of society yet away from the Shiites ideology .

In the rest of the world on the other hand, « terrorism » always sticks to the image of Hezbollah. A large majority of States regards the party as responsible for the war, and more particularly of deliberate attacks on civilians.

In May 2008, Lebanon experience a new crisis when the government decided to dismantle the communications network of Hezbollah, and dismiss Wafic Choukair, a relative of the party and head of security at the Beirut airport. The Party of God saw these decisions as a declaration of war, thus embarked in a display of power in Beirut by invading the Lebanese capital. Nasrallah accepts Qatar’s mediation to put an end to the civil war.