Hezbollah


Hezbollah
Hezbollah
Leader Hassan Nasrallah
Founded 1982–1985 (officially)
Ideology Shia Islamism
Religion Shia Islam
Official colours Yellow, Green
Parliament of Lebanon
12 / 128
Cabinet of Lebanon
2 / 30
Website
See List of official sites.
Politics of Lebanon
Political parties
Elections

Hezbollah[1] (Arabic: حزب اللهḥizbu-llāh(i), literally "Party of God") is a Shi'a Muslim militant group and political party based in Lebanon,[2][3][4] and leads the March 8 Alliance, which withdrew from the government in January 2011 over its refusal to reject the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. It receives financial and political support from Iran and Syria, and its paramilitary wing is regarded as a resistance movement throughout much of the Arab and Muslim worlds.[2] The United States, the Netherlands[5] United Kingdom, Israel, Australia, and Canada classify Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, in whole or in part.[6]

Hezbollah first emerged in response to the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, during the Lebanese civil war.[7] Its leaders were inspired by Ayatollah Khomeini, and its forces were trained and organized by a contingent of Iranian Revolutionary Guards.[8] Hezbollah's 1985 manifesto listed its four main goals as "Israel's final departure from Lebanon as a prelude to its final obliteration," ending "any imperialist power in Lebanon," submission of the Phalangists to "just rule" and bringing them to trial for their crimes, and giving the people the chance to choose "with full freedom the system of government they want," while not hiding its commitment to the rule of Islam.[9] Hezbollah leaders have also made numerous statements calling for the destruction of the state of Israel, which they refer to as the "Zionist entity."[9]

Hezbollah, which started with only a small militia, has grown to an organization with seats in the Lebanese government, a radio and a satellite television-station, and programs for social development.[10] Hezbollah maintains strong support among Lebanon's Shi'a population, and is able to mobilize demonstrations of hundreds of thousands.[11] Hezbollah alongside with some other groups began the 2006–2008 Lebanese political protests in opposition to the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.[12] A later dispute over Hezbollah preservation of its telecoms network led to clashes and Hezbollah-led opposition fighters seized control of several West Beirut neighborhoods from Future Movement militiamen loyal to Fouad Siniora. These areas were then handed over to the Lebanese Army.[13] A national unity government was formed in 2008, giving Hezbollah and its opposition allies control of eleven of thirty cabinets seats; effectively veto power.[4]

Hezbollah receives military training, weapons, and financial support from Iran, and political support from Syria. Following the end of the Israeli occupation of Lebanon in 2000, its military strength grew significantly.[14][15] Despite a June 2008 certification by the United Nations that Israel had withdrawn from all Lebanese territory,[16] in August, Lebanon's new Cabinet unanimously approved a draft policy statement which secures Hezbollah's existence as an armed organization and guarantees its right to "liberate or recover occupied lands." Since 1992, the organisation has been headed by Hassan Nasrallah, its Secretary-General.

Hezbollah became a part of the government for the first time on 13 June 2011.

Hezbollah

Articles

Contents

History

1980s

Ending Israel's occupation of Southern Lebanon was the primary focus of Hezbollah's early activities.[7] Israel had become militarily involved in Lebanon in combat with the Palestine Liberation Organization, which had been invited into Lebanon after Black September in Jordan. Israel had been attacking the PLO in Southern Lebanon in the lead-up to the 1982 Lebanon War, and Israel had invaded and occupied Southern Lebanon and besieged Beirut.[17]

Hezbollah waged an asymmetrical guerrilla war against Israel using suicide attacks against the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and against Israeli targets outside of Lebanon.[18] Hezbollah is reputed to have been among the first Islamic resistance groups to use tactical suicide bombing, assassination, and capturing foreign soldiers in the Middle East.[8] Hezbollah turned into a paramilitary organization and used missiles, Katyusha, and other type of rocket launchers and detonations of explosive charges[citation needed] instead of capturing,[19][20] murders,[19] and hijackings.[21] 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, in control of Lebanon at that time, allowed Hezbollah to maintain their arsenal, and control the Shiite areas in Southern Lebanon along the border with Israel.[22]

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.[23]

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.[24]

In 1997, Hezbollah formed multi-confessional Lebanese Brigades to Fighting the Israeli Occupation, which was an attempt to revive national and secular resistance against Israel, which marks the Lebanonisation of resistance.[25]

Islamic Jihad Organization

Whether the Islamic Jihad Organization (IJO) was a nom de guerre used by Hezbollah or a separate organization, is disputed.

Hezbollah leaders reportedly admitted their involvement in IJO's attacks and the nominal nature of "Islamic Jihad" – that it was merely a "telephone organization,"[26][27] and[28] whose name was "used by those involved to disguise their true identity."[29][30][31][32][33]

A 2003 decision by an American court found IJO was the name used by Hezbollah for its attacks in Lebanon, and parts of the Middle East, and Europe.[34] Hezbollah also used another name, Islamic Resistance, or al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya, for its attacks against Israel.[35]

The names Islamic Jihad Organization, Organization of the Oppressed on Earth and the Revolutionary Justice Organization are considered to be synonymous with Hezbollah by the United States,[36] Israel,[37] and Canada.[38]

Ideology

The ideology of Hezbollah has been summarized as Shi'i radicalism.[39][40][41] Hezbollah was largely formed with the aid of the Ayatollah Khomeini's followers in the early 1980s in order to spread Islamic revolution[42] and follows a distinct version of Islamic Shi'a ideology (Valiyat al-faqih or Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists) developed by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of the "Islamic Revolution" in Iran.[2][43] Although Hezbollah originally aimed to transform Lebanon into a formal Faqihi Islamic republic, this goal has been abandoned in favor of a more inclusive approach.[7]

The Hezbollah manifesto

On February 16, 1985, Sheik Ibrahim al-Amin issued Hezbollah's manifesto. Translated excerpts from Hezbollah's original 1985 manifesto read:

We are the sons of the umma (Muslim community) ...
... We are an ummah linked to the Muslims of the whole world by the solid doctrinal and religious connection of Islam, whose message God wanted to be fulfilled by the Seal of the Prophets, i.e., Prophet Muhammad. ... As for our culture, it is based on the Holy Quran, the Sunna and the legal rulings of the faqih who is our source of imitation...[9]

Hezbollah follows the Islamic Shi'a theology developed by Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.[43]

Attitudes, statements, and actions concerning Israel and Zionism

From the inception of Hezbollah to the present,[9][44] the elimination of the State of Israel has been one of Hezbollah's primary goals. Some translations of Hezbollah's 1985 Arabic-language manifesto state that "our struggle will end only when this entity [Israel] is obliterated".[9] According to Hezbollah's Deputy-General, Na'im Qasim, the struggle against Israel is a core belief of Hezbollah and the central rationale of Hezbollah's existence.[45]

Hezbollah says that its continued hostilities against Israel are justified as reciprocal to Israeli operations against Lebanon and as retaliation for what they claim is Israel's occupation of Lebanese territory.[46][47][48] Although Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000, and their complete withdrawal was verified by the United Nations, Lebanon now considers the Shebaa farms—a 26-km² (10-mi²) piece of land captured by Israel from Syria in the 1967 war and considered by the UN to be disputed territory between Syria and Israel—to be Lebanese territory. Additionally, Hezbollah claims that three Lebanese prisoners are being held in Israel.[49] Finally, Hezbollah consider Israel to be an illegitimate state. For these reasons, they justify their actions as acts of defensive jihad.[50]

If they go from Shebaa, we won't stop fighting them. ... Our goal is to liberate the 1948 borders of Palestine, ... The Jews who survive this war of liberation can go back to Germany or wherever they came from. However, that the Jews who lived in Palestine before 1948 will be 'allowed to live as a minority and they will be cared for by the Muslim majority.'

—Hezbollah's spokesperson Hassan Ezzedin, about an Israeli withdrawal from Shebaa Farms[51]

Attitudes and actions concerning Jews and Judaism

Hezbollah officials say that the group distinguishes between Judaism and Zionism. However, various anti-Semitic statements have been attributed to them.[52][53][54][55] Amal Saad-Ghorayeb, a Lebanese political analyst, argues that although Zionism has influenced Hezbollah's anti-Judaism, "it is not contingent upon it" because Hezbollah's hatred of Jews is more religiously motivated than politically motivated.[56] Robert S. Wistrich, a historian specializing in the study of anti-Semitism, described Hezbollah's ideology concerning Jews:

"The anti-Semitism of Hezbollah leaders and spokesmen combines the image of seemingly invincible Jewish power ... and cunning with the contempt normally reserved for weak and cowardly enemies. Like the Hamas propaganda for holy war, that of Hezbollah has relied on the endless vilification of Jews as 'enemies of mankind,' 'conspiratorial, obstinate, and conceited' adversaries full of 'satanic plans' to enslave the Arabs. It fuses traditional Islamic anti-Judaism with Western conspiracy myths, Third Worldist anti-Zionism, and Iranian Shiite contempt for Jews as 'ritually impure' and corrupt infidels. Sheikh Fadlallah typically insists ... that Jews wish to undermine or obliterate Islam and Arab cultural identity in order to advance their economic and political domination."[57]

Conflicting reports say Al-Manar accused either Israel or Jews of deliberately spreading HIV and other diseases to Arabs throughout the Middle East.[55][58][59] Al-Manar, the Hezbollah-owned and operated television station, was criticized in the West for airing "anti-Semitic propaganda" in the form of a television drama depicting a Jewish world domination conspiracy.[60][61][62] Hezbollah also used anti-Semitic educational materials designed for 5-year-old scouts.[63][64] The group has been accused by American analysts of engaging in Holocaust denial.[65][66][67]

In November 2009, Hezbollah pressured a private English-language school to drop excerpts from The Diary of Anne Frank, a book of the writings from the diary kept by the Jewish child Anne Frank while she was in hiding with her family during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands,[68][69] after Hezbollah's Al-Manar television channel complained, asking how long Lebanon would "remain an open arena for the Zionist invasion of education"?[69]

Organization

Organizational chart of Hezbollah, by Ahmad Nizar Hamzeh.

At the beginning many Hezbollah leaders have maintained that the movement was "not an organization, for its members carry no cards and bear no specific responsibilities,"[70] and that the movement does not have "a clearly defined organizational structure."[71] Nowadays, as Hezbollah scholar Magnus Ranstorp reports, Hezbollah does indeed have a formal governing structure, and in keeping with the principle of Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists (velayat-e faqih), it "concentrate[s] ... all authority and powers" in its religious leaders, whose decisions then "flow from the ulama down the entire community."

The supreme decision-making bodies of the Hezbollah were divided between the Majlis al-Shura (Consultative Assembly) which was headed by 12 senior clerical members with responsibility for tactical decisions and supervision of overall Hizballah activity throughout Lebanon, and the Majlis al-Shura al-Karar (the Deciding Assembly), headed by Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah and composed of eleven other clerics with responsibility for all strategic matters. Within the Majlis al-Shura, there existed seven specialized committees dealing with ideological, financial, military and political, judicial, informational and social affairs. In turn, the Majlis al-Shura and these seven committees were replicated in each of Hizballah's three main operational areas (the Beqaa, Beirut, and the South).[72]

Since the Supreme Leader of Iran is the ultimate clerical authority, Hezbollah's leaders have appealed to him "for guidance and directives in cases when Hezbollah's collective leadership [was] too divided over issues and fail[ed] to reach a consensus."[72] After the death of Iran's first Supreme Leader, Khomeini, Hezbollah's governing bodies developed a more "independent role" and appealed to Iran less often.[72] Since the Second Lebanon War, however, Iran has restructured Hezbollah to limit the power of Hassan Nasrallah, and invested billions of dollars "rehabilitating" Hezbollah.[73][74]

Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah

Structurally, Hezbollah does not distinguish between its political/social activities within Lebanon and its military/jihad activities against Israel. "Hezbollah has a single leadership," according to Naim Qassem, Hezbollah's second in command. "All political, social and jihad work is tied to the decisions of this leadership ... The same leadership that directs the parliamentary and government work also leads jihad actions in the struggle against Israel."[75]

In 2010, Iran's parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani said takes "pride in Lebanon's Islamic resistance movement for its steadfast Islamic stance. Hezbollah nurtures the original ideas of Islamic Jihad." While he also praised the group for "steadfast Islamic stance." He also instead turned charge on the West for having accused Iran with support of terrorism and said "The real terrorists are those who provide the Zionist regime with military equipment to bomb the people."[76]

Funding

Hezbollah says that the main source of its income comes from donations by Muslims.[77] Hezbollah receives substantial amounts of financial, training, weapons, explosives, political, diplomatic, and organizational aid from Iran and Syria.[51][78][79] According to reports released in February 2010, Hezbollah received $400 million dollars from Iran.[78][80][81][82] The US estimates that Iran has been giving Hezbollah about US$60–100 million per year in financial assistance.[83] Other estimates are as high as $200-million annually.[77]

Hezbollah has relied also on funding from the Shi'ite Lebanese Diaspora in West Africa, the United States and, most importantly, the Triple Frontier, or tri-border area, along the junction of Paraguay, Argentina, and Brazil.[84] U.S. law enforcement officials have identified an illegal multimillion-dollar cigarette-smuggling fund raising operation[85] and a drug smuggling operation.[86][87]

Social services

Hezbollah organizes an extensive social development program and runs hospitals, news services, educational facilities, and encouragement of Nikah mut‘ah.[80][88] One of its established institutions, Jihad Al Binna's Reconstruction Campaign, is responsible for numerous economic and infrastructure development projects in Lebanon.[89] Hezbollah has set up a Martyr's Institute (Al-Shahid Social Association), which guarantees to provide living and education expenses "for the families of fighters who die" in battle.[82] An IRIN news report of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs noted:

"Hezbollah not only has armed and political wings – it also boasts an extensive social development program. Hezbollah currently operates at least four hospitals, twelve clinics, twelve schools and two agricultural centres that provide farmers with technical assistance and training. It also has an environmental department and an extensive social assistance program. Medical care is also cheaper than in most of the country's private hospitals and free for Hezbollah members."[80]

According to CNN, "Hezbollah did everything that a government should do, from collecting the garbage to running hospitals and repairing schools."[90] In July 2006, during the war with Israel, when there was no running water in Beirut, Hezbollah was arranging supplies around the city. Lebanese Shiites "see Hezbollah as a political movement and a social service provider as much as it is a militia."[90] Hezbollah also rewards its guerilla members who have been wounded in battle by taking them to Hezbollah-run amusement parks.[91]

Political activities

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Lebanon’s majority Shi’a areas as of July 2006, where Hezbollah is most prominent.
December 10, 2006 anti-government rally in Beirut

Hezbollah alongside with Amal is one of two major political parties in Lebanon that represent the Shiite Muslims.[92] It holds 14 of the 128 seats in the Parliament of Lebanon and is a member of the Resistance and Development Bloc. According to Daniel L. Byman, it's "the most powerful single political movement in Lebanon."[93] Hezbollah, along with the Amal Movement, represents most of Lebanese Shi'a. However, unlike Amal, Hezbollah has not disarmed. Hezbollah participates in the Parliament of Lebanon.

Hezbollah has been one the main parties of March 8 Alliance since March 2005. Although Hezbollah had joined the new government in 2005, it remained staunchly opposed to the March 14 Alliance.[94] On December 1, 2006, these groups began the 2006–2008 Lebanese political protests, a series of protests and sit-ins in opposition to the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.[12]

On May 7, 2008 Lebanon's 17-month long political crisis spiraled out of control. The fighting was sparked by a government move to shut down Hezbollah's telecommunication network and remove Beirut Airport's security chief over alleged ties to Hezbollah. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said the government's decision to declare the group's military telecommunications network illegal was a "declaration of war" on the organization, and demanded that the government revoke it.[95] Hezbollah-led opposition fighters seized control of several West Beirut neighborhoods from Future Movement militiamen loyal to the backed government, in street battles that left 11 dead and 30 wounded. The opposition-seized areas were then handed over to the Lebanese Army.[13] The army also pledged to resolve the dispute and has reversed the decisions of the government by letting Hezbollah preserve its telecoms network and re-instating the airport's security chief.[96] At the end, rival Lebanese leaders reached consensus over Doha Agreement on May 21, 2008, to end the 18-month political feud that exploded into fighting and nearly drove the country to a new civil war.[97] On the basis of this agreement, Hezbollah and its opposition allies were effectively granted veto power in Lebanon's parliament. At the end of the conflicts, National unity government was formed by Fouad Siniora on July 11, 2008 and Hezbollah has one minister and controls eleven of thirty seats in the cabinet.[4]

Hezbollah currently sits in the opposition March 8 alliance. However, they withdrew from the government citing inability to discuss issues over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

Media operations

Hezbollah operates a satellite television station, Al-Manar TV ("the Lighthouse") and a radio station al-Nour ("the Light").[98] Al-Manar broadcasts from Beirut, Lebanon.[98] Hezbollah launched the station in 1991[99] with the help of Iranian funds.[100] Al-Manar, the self-proclaimed "Station of the Resistance," (qanat al-muqawama) is a key player in what Hezbollah calls its "psychological warfare against the Zionist enemy"[100][101] and an integral part of Hezbollah's plan to spread its message to the entire Arab world.[100]

Hezbollah's television station Al-Manar airs programming designed to inspire suicide attacks in Gaza, the West Bank, and Iraq.[51][99][102] Al-Manar's transmission in France is prohibited due to promotion of Holocaust denial, a criminal offense in France.[103][104][105] The United States lists Al-Manar television network as a terrorist organization.[106]

Al-Manar was designated as a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist entity," and banned by the United States in December 2004.[107] It has also been banned by France, Spain and Germany,[108][109][110]

Materials aimed at instilling principles of nationalism and Islam in children are an aspect of Hezbollah's media operations.[111] The Hezbollah Central Internet Bureau released a video game in 2003 entitled Special Force and a sequel in 2007 in which players are rewarded with points and weapons for killing Israelis.[112]

Military activities

Hezbollah has a military branch known as Al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya ("The Islamic Resistance") and is the possible sponsor of a number of lesser-known militant groups, some of which may be little more than fronts for Hezbollah itself, including the Organization of the Oppressed, the Revolutionary Justice Organization, the Organization of Right Against Wrong, and Followers of the Prophet Muhammad.[113]

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559 called for the disarmament of militia[114] with the Taif agreement at the end of the Lebanese civil war. Hezbollah denounced, and protested against, the resolution.[115] The 2006 military conflict with Israel has increased the controversy. Failure to disarm remains a violation of the resolution and agreement as well as subsequent United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701.[116] Since then both Israel and Hezbollah have asserted that the organization has gained in military strength.[15] A Lebanese public opinion poll taken in August 2006 shows that most of the Shia did not believe that Hezbollah should disarm after the 2006 Lebanon war, while the majority of Sunni, Druze and Christians believed that they should.[117] The Lebanese cabinet, under president Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, guidelines state that Hezbollah enjoys the right to "liberate occupied lands."[118] In 2009, a Hezbollah commander (speaking on condition of anonymity) said, "[W]e have far more rockets and missiles [now] than we did in 2006."[119]

Suicide attacks and kidnappings

A smoke cloud rises from the bombed American barracks at Beirut International Airport, where over 200 U.S. marines were killed

Between 1982 and 1986, there were 36 suicide attacks in Lebanon directed against American, French and Israelis forces by 41 individuals with predominantly leftist political beliefs and of both major religions,[120] killing 659.[18] Hezbollah denies involvement in any attack, though it has been accused of some or all of these attacks:[121][122][123]

Since 1990, Hezbollah has been accused of the following attacks and attempted attacks (Hezbollah leaders denied involvement[citation needed]):

Conflict with Israel

South Lebanon conflict

Hezbollah has been involved in several cases of armed conflict with Israel:

  • During the 1982–2000 South Lebanon conflict, Hezbollah waged a guerrilla campaign against Israeli forces occupying Southern Lebanon. Israel withdrew in 2000 in accordance with 1978's United Nations Security Council Resolution 425.[16] With the collapse of their supposed allies, the SLA, and the rapid advance of Hezbollah forces, they withdrew suddenly on May 24, 2000 six weeks before the announced July 7 date."[21] Hezbollah held a victory parade, and its popularity in Lebanon rose.[131] Hezbollah and many analysts considered this a victory for the movement, and since then its popularity has been boosted in Lebanon.[131]
  • On July 25, 1993, following Hezbollah's killing of seven Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon, Israel launched Operation Accountability (known in Lebanon as the Seven Day War), during which the IDF carried out their heaviest artillery and air attacks on targets in southern Lebanon since 1982. The aim of the operation was to eradicate the threat posed by Hezbollah and to force the civilian population north to Beirut so as to put pressure on the Lebanese Government to restrain Hezbollah.[132] The fighting ended when an unwritten understanding was agreed to by the warring parties. Apparently, the 1993 understanding provided that Hezbollah combatants would not fire rockets at northern Israel, while Israel would not attack civilians or civilian targets in Lebanon.[133]
  • In April 1996, after continued Hezbollah rocket attacks on Israeli civilians,[134] the Israeli armed forces launched Operation Grapes of Wrath, which was intended to wipe out Hezbollah's base in southern Lebanon. Over 100 Lebanese refugees were killed by the shelling of a UN base at Qana, in what the Israeli military said was a mistake.[135] Finally, following several days of negotiations, the two sides signed the Grapes of Wrath Understandings on April 26, 1996. A cease-fire was agreed upon between Israel and Hezbollah, which would be effective on April 27, 1996.[136] Both sides agreed that civilians should not be targeted, which meant that Hezbollah would be allowed to continue its military activities against IDF forces inside Lebanon.[136]

2000 Hezbollah cross-border raid

On October 7, 2000, three Israeli soldiers – Adi Avitan, Staff Sgt. Benyamin Avraham, and Staff Sgt. Omar Sawaidwere – were abducted by Hezbollah while patrolling the Israeli side of the Israeli-Lebanese border.[137] The soldiers were killed either during the attack or in its immediate aftermath.[138] Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has, however, said that Hezbollah abducted the soldiers and then killed them.[139] The bodies of the slain soldiers were exchanged for Lebanese prisoners in 2004.[140]

2006 Lebanon War

Hezbollah posters in the aftermath of the 2006 Lebanon War

The 2006 Lebanon War was a 34-day military conflict in Lebanon and northern Israel. The principal parties were Hezbollah paramilitary forces and the Israeli military. The conflict was precipitated by a cross-border raid by Hezbollah during which they kidnapped and killed Israeli soldiers. In a speech in July 2008, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah acknowledged that he had ordered the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers in order to free prisoners held in Israeli jails.[116][non-primary source needed] The conflict began on July 12, 2006 when Hezbollah militants fired rockets at Israeli border towns as a diversion for an anti-tank missile attack on two armored Humvees patrolling the Israeli side of the border fence, killing three, injuring two, and seizing two Israeli soldiers.[141]

Israel responded with massive airstrikes and artillery fire on targets in Lebanon that damaged Lebanese civilian infrastructure, including Beirut's Rafic Hariri International Airport (which Israel said that Hezbollah used to import weapons and supplies),[142] an air and naval blockade,[143] and a ground invasion of southern Lebanon. Hezbollah then launched more rockets into northern Israel and engaged the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in guerrilla warfare from hardened positions.[144] The war continued until August 14, 2006. Hezbollah was responsible for thousands of Katyusha rocket attacks against Israeli civilian towns and cities in northern Israel,[145] which Hezbollah said were in retaliation for Israel's killing of civilians and targeting Lebanese infrastructure.[146] According to The Guardian, "In the fighting 1,200 Lebanese and 158 Israelis were killed. Of the dead almost 1,000 Lebanese and 41 Israelis were civilians."[147]

2010 Gas Field Claims

In 2010, Hezbollah claimed that the Dalit and Tamar gas field, discovered by Noble Energy roughly 50 miles (80 km) west of Haifa in Israeli exclusive economic zone, belong to Lebanon, and warned Israel against extracting gas from them. Senior officials from Hezbollah warned that they would not hesitate to use weapons to defend Lebanon's natural resources. Figures in the March 14 Forces stated in response that Hezbullah was simply looking for another excuse to hold on to its arms. Lebanese MP Antoine Zahra said that the issue is another item "in the endless list of excuses" meant to justify the continued existence of Hezbullah's arsenal.[148]

2011 attack in Istanbul

In July 2011, Italian newspaper Corierre della Sera reported, based on American and Turkish sources,[149] that Hezbollah was behind a bombing in Istanbul in May 2011 that wounded eight Turkish civilians. The report said that the attack was an assassination attempt on the Israeli consul to Turkey, Moshe Kimchi. Turkish intelligence sources denied the report and said "Israel is in the habit of creating disinformation campaigns using different papers."[149]

2010 Lebanon Takeover Drills

In 2009, the United Nations special tribunal investigating the murder of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri reportedly found evidence linking Hezbollah to the murder.[150]

Armed strength

Hezbollah has not revealed its armed strength. It has been estimated by Mustafa Alani, security director at the Dubai-based Gulf Research Centre that Hezbollah's military force is made up of about 1,000 full-time Hezbollah members, along with a further 6,000–10,000 volunteers.[151]

Hezbollah possesses the Katyusha-122 rocket, which has a range of 29 km (18 mi) and carries a 15-kg (33-lb) warhead. Hezbollah also possesses about 100 long-range missiles. They include the Iranian-made Fajr-3 and Fajr-5, the latter with a range of 75 km (47 mi), enabling it to strike the Israeli port of Haifa, and the Zelzal-1, with an estimated 150 km (93 mi) range, which can reach Tel Aviv. Fajr-3 missiles have a range of 40 km (25 mi) and a 45-kg (99-lb) warhead, and Fajr-5 missiles, which extend to 72 km (45 mi), also hold 45-kg (99-lb) warheads.[151] It was reported that Hezbollah is in possession of Scud missiles that were provided to them by Syria.[152] The reports were denied by Syria.[153]

According to various reports, Hezbollah is armed with anti-tank guided missiles, namely, the Russian-made AT-3 Sagger, AT-4 Spigot, AT-5 Spandrel, AT-13 Saxhorn-2 'Metis-M', АТ-14 Spriggan 'Kornet'; Iranian-made Ra'ad (version of AT-3 Sagger), Towsan (version of AT-5 Spandrel), Toophan (version of BGM-71 TOW); and European-made MILAN missiles. These weapons have been used against IDF soldiers, causing many of the deaths during the 2006 Lebanon War.[154] A small number of Saeghe-2s (Iranian-made version of M47 Dragon) were also used in the war.[155]

For air defense, Hezbollah has anti-aircraft weapons that include the ZU-23 artillery and the man-portable, shoulder-fired SA-7 and SA-18 surface-to-air missile (SAM).[156] One of the most effective weapons deployed by Hezbollah has been the C-802 anti-ship missile.[157]

Israeli commander Gui Zur called Hizbollah: “by far the greatest guerrilla group in the world”[158]

In April 2010 United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates claimed that the Hezbollah has far more missiles and rockets than the majority of countries. He said that Syria and Iran are providing weapons to the organization. Israel also claims that Syria is providing the organization with these weapons. Syria has denied supplying these weapons and views these claims as an Israeli excuse for an attack.[159] Leaked cables from American diplomats suggest that the United States has been trying unsuccessfully to prevent Syria from "supplying arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon", and that Hezbollah has "amassed a huge stockpile (of arms) since its 2006 war with Israel"; the arms were described as "increasingly sophisticated."[160] Gates added that Hezbollah is possibly armed with chemical or biological weapons, as well as anti-ship missiles with a range of 65 miles (105 km) that could threaten U.S. ships.[161]

Current estimates

As of 2010, the Israeli government believed Hezbollah had an arsenal of more than 15,000 long-range rockets stationed on its border with Lebanon. Some of these missiles were said to be capable of penetrating cities as far away as Eilat.[162]

The Israeli Ambassador to United States Michael Oren expressed deep concern with the revelation.

The Syrian-Iranian backed Hizbullah poses a very serious threat to Israel...Hizbullah today now has four times as many rockets as it had during the 2006 Lebanon war. These rockets are longer-range. Every city in Israel is within range right now, including Eilat.[162]

The IDF has accused Hezbollah of storing these rockets beneath hospitals, schools, and civilian homes.[162]

Targeting policy

Hezbollah has not been involved in any suicide bombing since Israel withdrew from Lebanon.[163] After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Hezbollah condemned Al Qaeda for targeting the civilian World Trade Center, but remained silent on the attack on The Pentagon.[8][164] Hezbollah also denounced the massacres in Algeria by Armed Islamic Group, Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya attacks on tourists in Egypt,[165] and the murder of Nick Berg.[166]

Although Hezbollah has denounced certain attacks on civilians, some people accuse the organization of the bombing of an Argentine synagogue in 1994. Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman, Marcelo Martinez Burgos, and their "staff of some 45 people"[167] said that Hezbollah and their contacts in Iran were responsible for the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Argentina, in which "[e]ighty-five people were killed and more than 200 others injured."[168] In June 2002, shortly after the Israeli government launched Operation Defensive Shield, Nasrallah gave a speech in which he defended and praised suicide bombings of Israeli targets by members of Palestinian groups for "creating a deterrence and equalizing fear." Nasrallah stated that "in occupied Palestine, there is no difference between a soldier and a civilian, for they are all invaders, occupiers and usurpers of the land."[8]

Alleged Involvement in Murder of Rafic Hariri

On 30 June 2011, the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, established to investigate the death of the former prime minister Rafic Hariri, issued arrest warrants against four senior members of Hezbollah.[169] On 3 July, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah rejected the indictment and denounced the tribunal as a plot against the party, vowing that the named persons would not be arrested under any circumstances.[170]

Attacks on Hezbollah leaders

Hezbollah has also been the target of bomb attacks and kidnappings. These include:

  • In the 1985 Beirut car bombing, Hezbollah leader Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah was targeted, but the assassination attempt failed. It has been alleged[171] that the CIA was responsible for this attack.
  • On July 28, 1989, Israeli commandos kidnapped Sheikh Abdul Karim Obeid, the leader of Hezbollah.[172] This action led to the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 638, which condemned all hostage takings by all sides.
  • In 1992, Israeli helicopters attacked a motorcade in southern Lebanon, killing the Hezbollah leader Abbas al-Musawi, his wife, son, and four others.[21]
  • On February 12, 2008, Imad Mughnieh was killed by a car bomb in Damascus, Syria.[173]

Foreign relations

Hezbollah has close relations with Iran.[174] It also has ties with the leadership in Syria, specifically with President Hafez al-Assad (until his death in 2000) and his son and successor Bashar al-Assad.[175] Although Hezbollah and Hamas are not organizationally linked, Hezbollah provides military training as well as financial and moral support to the Sunni Palestinian group.[176] Furthermore, Hezbollah is a strong supporter of the ongoing Al-Aqsa Intifada.[8] American and Israeli counter-terrorism officials claim that Hezbollah has (or had) links to Al Qaeda, although Hezbollah's leaders deny these allegations.[177][178][179] Also, some al-Qaeda leaders, like Abu Musab al-Zarqawi[180] and Wahhabi clerics, consider Hezbollah to be apostate.[181] But United States intelligence officials speculate that there has been contact between Hezbollah and low-level al-Qaeda figures who fled Afghanistan for Lebanon.[182]

Public opinion

According to Michel Samaha, Lebanon’s minister of information, Hezbollah is seen as a legitimate resistance organization that has defended its land against an Israeli occupying force and has consistently stood up to the Israeli army.[8]

According to a survey released by the "Beirut Center for Research and Information" on July 26 during the 2006 Lebanon War, 87 percent of Lebanese support Hezbollah's "retaliatory attacks on northern Israel",[183] a rise of 29 percentage points from a similar poll conducted in February. More striking, however, was the level of support for Hezbollah's resistance from non-Shiite communities. Eighty percent of Christians polled supported Hezbollah, along with 80 percent of Druze and 89 percent of Sunnis.[184]

In a poll of Lebanese adults taken in 2004, 6% of respondents gave unqualified support to the statement "Hezbollah should be disarmed". 41% reported unqualified disagreement.[185] A poll of Gaza Strip and West Bank residents indicated that 79.6% had "a very good view" of Hezbollah, and most of the remainder had a "good view".[186] Polls of Jordanian adults in December 2005 and June 2006 showed that 63.9% and 63.3%, respectively, considered Hezbollah to be a legitimate resistance organization.[187] In the December 2005 poll, only 6% of Jordanian adults considered Hezbollah to be terrorist.[188]

A July 2006 USA Today/Gallup poll found that 83% of the 1,005 Americans polled blamed Hezbollah, at least in part, for the 2006 Lebanon War, compared to 66% who blamed Israel to some degree. Additionally, 76% disapproved of the military action Hezbollah took in Israel, compared to 38% who disapproved of Israel's military action in Lebanon.[189] A poll in August 2006 by ABC News and the Washington Post found that 68% of the 1,002 Americans polled blamed Hezbollah, at least in part, for the civilian casualties in Lebanon during the 2006 Lebanon War, compared to 31% who blamed Israel to some degree.[189] Another August 2006 poll by CNN showed that 69% of the 1,047 Americans polled believed that Hezbollah is unfriendly towards, or an enemy of, the United States.[189]

In 2010, a survey of Muslims in Lebanon showed that 94% of Lebanese Shia supported Hezbollah, while 84% of the Sunni Muslims held an unfavorable opinion of the group.[190]

Designation as a terrorist organization or resistance movement

Hezbollah’s status as a legitimate political party, a terrorist group, a resistance movement, or some combination thereof is a contentious issue. Several Western countries officially classify Hezbollah or its external security wing as a terrorist organization, and some of their violent acts have been described as terrorist attacks. Throughout most of the Arab and Muslim worlds, Hezbollah is referred to as a resistance movement, engaged in national defense.[2][191][192] Even within Lebanon, Hezbollah's status is contentious.

In the Western World

Countries below have officially listed Hezbollah in at least some part as a terrorist organization.

 Australia The Hezbollah External Security Organization [193]
 Canada The entire organization Hezbollah [194]
 Israel The entire organization Hezbollah [195]
 United Kingdom Hezbollah's military wing only [196]
 United States The entire organization Hezbollah [197]
 Netherlands The entire organization Hezbollah [198]

In 1999, Hezbollah was placed on the US State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. After Hezbollah's condemnation of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the USA, it was removed from the list, but it was later returned to the list.[199] In 2002, US State Department official Christopher Ross was cited as explaining that while "the Hezbollah party and some of its members carried out terrorist acts in the past", "the acts that it carried out against the Israeli forces in South Lebanon were not terrorist acts."[200]

The European Union does not list Hezbollah as a "terrorist organization";[201] In addition, on March 10, 2005, the European Parliament passed a non-binding resolution recognizing "clear evidence" of "terrorist activities by Hezbollah"[202] and urging the EU Council to brand Hezbollah a terrorist organization and EU governments to place Hezbollah on their terrorist blacklists, as the bloc did with the Palestinian Hamas group in 2003.[202] The Council has been reluctant to do this because France, Spain, and Britain fear that such a move would further damage the prospects for Middle East peace talks.[202] In the midst of the 2006 conflict between Hezbollah and Israel, Russia’s government declined to include Hezbollah in a newly released list of terrorist organizations, with Yuri Sapunov, the head of anti-terrorism for the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation, saying that they list only organizations which represent "the greatest threat to the security of our country".[203] Prior to the release of the list, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov called "on Hezbollah to stop resorting to any terrorist methods, including attacking neighboring states."[204]

The Quartet’s fourth member, the United Nations, does not maintain such a list,[205] however, the United Nations has made repeated calls for Hezbollah to disarm and accused the group of destabilizing the region and causing harm to Lebanese civilians.[206][207][208][209] Human rights organizations Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have accused Hezbollah of committing war crimes against Israeli civilians,[210][211][212][213] in which in the same article, they also accused Israel of war crimes but against Lebanese civilians.

Argentine prosecutors hold Hezbollah and their financial supporters in Iran responsible for the 1994 AMIA Bombing of a Jewish cultural center, described by the Associated Press as "the worst terrorist attack on Argentine soil," in which "[e]ighty-five people were killed and more than 200 others injured."[168][214] During the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon, French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin condemned attacks by Hezbollah fighters on Israeli forces in south Lebanon, saying they were "terrorism" and not acts of resistance. "France condemns Hezbollah's attacks, and all types of terrorist attacks which may be carried out against soldiers, or possibly Israel's civilian population."[215] Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema differentiated the wings of Hezbollah: "Apart from their well-known terrorist activities, they also have political standing and are socially engaged."[216] German officials indicate that they would likely support a designation of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.[217] The Netherlands regard Hezbollah as terrorist discussing it as such in official reports of their general intelligence and security service[218] and in official answers by the Minister of Foreign Affairs.[219]

In the Arab and Muslim World

In 2006 Hezbollah was regarded as a legitimate resistance movement most of the Arab and Muslim worlds.[2] "The indictments for the Hariri killing," the Associated Press reported in August 2011, "damages the group's crossover appeal in the Mideast's sectarian divides."[220] Furthermore, most of the Sunni Arab world sees Hezbollah as an agent of Iranian influence, and therefore, would like to see their power in Lebanon diminished.[221] Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia have condemned Hezbollah's actions, saying that "the Arabs and Muslims can't afford to allow an irresponsible and adventurous organization like Hezbollah to drag the region to war" and calling it "dangerous adventurism,"[222]

Following the 2009 Hezbollah plot in Egypt, Egypt has officially classified Hezbollah as a terrorist group.[223]

During the 2011 Bahraini protests, Bahrain foreign minister Khalid ibn Ahmad Al Khalifah labeled Hezbollah a terrorist group and accused them of supporting the protesters.[224][225]

During the 2011 Syrian uprising Hezbollah's has voiced support for Syrian President Bashar Assad's government, which has prompted criticism from anti-government Syrians. As Hezbollah supported other movements in the context of the Arab Spring, anti-government Syrians have stated that they feel "betrayed" by a double standard allegedly applied by the movement. When during the summer of 2011 the violence in Syria escalated further, Hezbollah avoided talking about Syria’s uprising.[220]

In Lebanon

Following the 2006 Lebanon war, other Lebanese including the government were resentful of the large damage sustained by the country and saw Hizbullah’s actions as unjustified "dangerous adventurism" rather than legitimate resistance. They accused Hezbollah of acting on behalf of Iran and Syria.[226] An official of the Future Movement, part of the March 14 Alliance, warned that Hezbollah “has all the characteristics of a terrorist party”, and that Hezbollah is moving Lebanon toward the Iranian Islamic system of government.[227]

In August 2008, Lebanon's cabinet completed a policy statement which recognized "the right of Lebanon's people, army, and resistance to liberate the Israeli-occupied Shebaa Farms, Kafar Shuba Hills, and the Lebanese section of Ghajar village, and defend the country using all legal and possible means."[228]

Gebran Tueni, a conservative, Orthodox Christian editor of an-Nahar, referred to Hezbollah as an "Iranian import and said “they have nothing to do with Arab civilization.” Tuení believed that Hezbollah’s evolution is cosmetic, concealing a sinister long-term strategy to Islamicize Lebanon and lead it into a ruinous war with Israel. “Ask Mr. Nasrallah whether there would be a place for Christians in the Islamic Republic of Lebanon,” he said, “You might remind him that we are not an external force. We’ve been here longer than the Muslims—we are not Afrikaners!"[8]

Tueni was assassinated in 2005.[229]

While Hezbollah has supported popular uprisings in Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain and Tunisia – Hezbollah publicly sided with Iran and Syria in their own violent repressions of dissent. In August 2010, 800 people demonstrated in Beirut against Syrian President Bashar Assad, and police were called in to contain the smaller pro-Syrian rallies that followed. Demonstrators were shouting, “Syria wants freedom,” “Anyone who kills his people is a murderer and a coward,” and “the people want an end to the regime.”[230]

Scholarly views

Some American and Israeli academics specializing in a wide variety of the social sciences believe that Hezbollah is an example of an Islamic terrorist organization. The Americans include former U.S. Secretary of State and current political science professor Condoleezza Rice, Lebanese-born terrorism scholar Walid Phares, historian Mark LeVine, and journalist Donna Rosenthal.[231][232][233][234] Israeli historians that have referred to Hezbollah as an Islamic terrorist organization include Avraham Sela, Robert S. Wistrich, and Eyal Zisser.[235][236][237] Iranian scholar Siamak Khatami, Singaporean scholar Rohan Gunaratna, Australian scholar Neeru Gaba, and Norwegian scholar Tore Bjørgo have all referred to Hezbollah using similar terms.[177][238][239][240]

Views of foreign legislators

J. Gresham Barrett brought up legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives which, among other things, referred to Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Congresspersons Tom Lantos, Jim Saxton, Thad McCotter, Chris Shays, Charles Boustany, Alcee Hastings, and Robert Wexler referred to Hezbollah as a terrorist organization in their speeches supporting the legislation.[241] Shortly before a speech by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, U.S. Congressperson Dennis Hastert said, "He [Maliki] denounces terrorism, and I have to take him at his word. Hezbollah is a terrorist organization."[242]

In 2011, a bipartisan group of American congresspersons introduced the Hezbollah Anti-Terrorism Act. The act ensures that no American aid to Lebanon will enter the hands of Hezbollah. On the day of the act's introduction, Congressman Darrell Issa said, "Hezbollah is a terrorist group and a cancer on Lebanon. The Hezbollah Anti-Terrorism Act surgically targets this cancer and will strengthen the position of Lebanese who oppose Hezbollah."[243]

In a Sky News interview during the 2006 Lebanon war, former British MP George Galloway said that Hezbollah is: "not a terrorist organization"[244] This view is also held by U.S. Representative Darrell Issa.[245]

See also

References

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  245. ^ Gary Indiana (2008). Utopia's debris: selected essays (Hardcover ed.). Basic Books. p. 10. ISBN 046500248X. http://books.google.com/books?id=bYqbRAvohg4C&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false. 

Further reading

Books
Articles

External links

Official sites

UN resolutions regarding Hezbollah

Other links

  • Hezbollah: Financing Terror through Criminal Enterprise, Testimony of Matthew Levitt, Hearing of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, United States Senate
  • Hizbullah's two republics by Mohammed Ben Jelloun, Al-Ahram, February 15–21, 2007
  • Inside Hezbollah, short documentary and extensive information from Frontline/World on PBS.
  • An Open Letter: The Hezbollah Program – five pages excerpted from Hezbollah's 1985 manifesto translated into English. The complete document is 20 printed pages in translation and may be found in Norton, Augustus (1987). Amal and the Shi'a: Struggle for the Soul of Lebanon. Austin: University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-73039-x.  Specifically: "Nass al-risala al-maftuha allati wajjaha hizb allah ila al-mustad'afin fi lubnan wa al-'alam [Text of an Open Letter Addressed by Hizballah to the Downtrodden in Lebanon and in the World]", Appendix B, pp. 167–187.</ref>
  • Hizbullah – the 'Party of God' – fact file at Ynetnews


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Hezbollah — (le) (en ar. hizb Allâh, parti de Dieu ) organisation chiite, pro iranienne, créée en 1982 au Liban. Après le désarmement des milices, en 1991, ses partisans se sont regroupés dans le Sud, où ils mènent des opérations contre l occupation… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Hezbollah — extremist Shiite group active in Lebanon, founded c.1982, from Pers. hezbollah, Arabic hizbullah, lit. Party of God, from hezb/hizb party + allah God. An adherent is a Hezbollahi. The name of various Islamic groups in modern times, the name… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Hezbollah — [hez΄bə lä′, hez bä′lə] n. [Pers or Ar, lit., Party of God] a militant fundamentalist Shiite organization based in Lebanon …   English World dictionary

  • Hezbollah — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Hizbullah (Indonésie) et Hezbollah turc. Hezbollah حزب الله‬ Chef du Parti …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Hezbollah — (Hizballah)    A radical Shi a group formed in 1983, it is also known as the Party of God, as well as by several other names, including Islamic Jihad, Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Revolutionary Justice …   Historical Dictionary of Israel

  • hezbollah — Arabic. /khes bah lah /, n. a radical Shi ite Muslim organization in Lebanon engaged in guerrilla warfare against Israel. Also, Hizballah. [ < Ar: lit., Party of God] * * * or Ḥizbullāh or Ḥizb Allāh (Arabic; Party of God ) Lebanese Shīʽite… …   Universalium

  • Hezbollah — Flagge der Hisbollah mit Schriftzug ( Wahrlich, die Partei Gottes ist die siegende Partei. Der islamische Widerstand im Libanon ) und Kalaschnikow. Das Logo der Hisbollah ist an dem der Iranischen Revolutionsgarde angelehnt und wurde im Iran… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Hezbollah — (ḥizb Allāh, partido de Dios) ► Organización islámica libanesa, fundada en 1982 con el apoyo de militantes chiitas iraníes agrupados en el movimiento iraní llamado también Hezbollah. Luchó contra la ocupación de una parte del S de Líbano por… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • hezbollah — hez·bol·lah s.m.inv. ES ar. {{wmetafile0}} TS polit., relig. spec. al pl., estremista islamico politicamente vicino all Iran {{line}} {{/line}} DATA: 1987. ETIMO: ar. volg. hezbollāh, var. di hizbu ?llāh, propr. partito di Dio …   Dizionario italiano

  • hezbollah —  n. et adj. Membre du Hezbollah, organisation islamiste libanaise …   Le dictionnaire des mots absents des autres dictionnaires


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