Hezbullah or Hezbollah, which literally means “Party of God”, is an organization based on Lebanon. It is a religious-political-paramilitary organization of several thousand Shiite Muslim militants that plays a significant role in the Lebanese politics. Hezbullah, while maintaining to be a major contributor to social programs and services in Lebanon, has been considered an Islamic struggle movement. The group also is a foremost provider of agricultural services, medical aid, and school operations in Lebanon. The group is also a significant and influential power when it comes to the world of Lebanese politics.
With its outright mission, to destroy Israel, it has been condemned by many governments – but others have praised the party. Western countries, most notably the United States, consider Hezbullah as a terrorist organization. Other countries that recognize in some part or in whole the group as a terrorist organization include the Great Britain, Australia, Canada and several others. Origins It was in the year 1982 that Hezbullah surfaced in Lebanon as it was invaded by Israel and was dubbed as “Operation Peace for Galilee”. Hezbullah was set in resistance against the Israeli occupation of Lebanon amid the Lebanese civil war.
Inspired by the great Iranian political and religious leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, the leaders went for the training and organization of some Iranian Revolutionary Guards. Although the first manifesto of the group did not directly mention the destruction of Israel, the leaders of Hezbullah made several claims on destroying the “Zionist entity” forcing themselves to the lands rightful owners own. They referred to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon that during the course, claimed not only livestock, lands, homes, but more especially lives.
The group started only as a small militia but slowly gained followers that agree to the views and ideologies of the left-leaning group. They started to gain social power, as getting seats in the Lebanese government, being able to create social development programs, as well as getting control and owning their own radio station and a satellite television station. As Shiite Muslims account for majority of its members, their members now vary from all domain of Lebanese population, especially after the 2006 Lebanon war or the July war that featured the warfare between Israel and Hezbullah themselves.
Given their broad tally sheets of members, they are able to mobilize protests to the hundreds of thousands of their members, creating a major concern for the Lebanese government itself. Objectives The 1985 manifesto of the Hezbullah enumerated their three main goals as follows: (1) to put an end to any “colonialist entity” that existed in Lebanon, (2) to bring the Phalangists, a right-wing party in Lebanon, to justice for the “crimes” they had perpetrated, and finally (3) to the rightful establishment of an Islamic regime in Lebanon. The manifesto also featured some of the ideologies of the group.
The group condemns the “Zionist occupation of Palestine” outright and added by several claims that “there is no legitimacy for the existence of ‘Israel’”. The Ideology of Hezbullah is derived from the Islamic Shiite Ideology popularized by Ayatollah Khomeini, known for leading the Islamic revolution in Iran in the 1970’s. The Founding Statement of Hezbullah contains a section that reads: “We see in Israel the vanguard of the United States in our Islamic world. It is the hated enemy that must be fought until the hated ones get what they deserve.
Our primary assumption in our fight against Israel states that the Zionist entity is aggressive from its inception, built on lands wrested from their owners, at the expense of the rights of the Muslim people. Therefore our struggle will end only when this entity is obliterated. We recognize no treaty with it, no cease fire, and no peace agreements, whether separate or consolidated. We vigorously condemn all plans for negotiation with Israel, and regard all negotiators as enemies, for the reason that such negotiation is nothing but the recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist occupation of Palestine.”
It was entitled “The Necessity for the Destruction of Israel” which pretty much sums it all up. Structure From 1992 up to the present, the organization has been headed its Secretary-General, Hassan Nasrallah. Originally a military commander, but with the background of studying Shiite theology in Iran and Iraq, Nasrallah made it higher in the ranks with ease. Some reports suggest that he took advantage of the inside rivalry in the group to capture the Secretary-General position from Ayatollah Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini.
Another leader, Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, has been the group’s spiritual leader since its founding. However, Fadlallah, died of a liver hemorrhage recently, 4th July 2010, at the age of 75. There is still a huge blank space to be filled in the group’s spiritual leader’s death. One other leader can be considered as the brains of the Hezbullah operations worldwide. It was Imad Fayez Mugniyah who was considered as the key planner, the mastermind, the engineer that finds time to plan details and execution of its terrorist operations.
Mugniyah got his talent from experience, training with al Fatah in the 1970’s in the midst of the Lebanese civil war. It was in the 1980’s that the two, al Fatah and Mugniyah, were expelled from Lebanon by Israeli forces. But with his talent and skill, he quickly went up ranks after joining the Hezbullah. However, it was on 13 February, 2008, that Mugniyah was killed in a car bombing incident in Damascus supposedly pinned to Israel but with no solid grounds. The group is structured into three sub-groups namely the Bayt al-Mal, Jihad al Binna and the IRSO (Islamic Resistance Support Organization).
Hezbullah gets its finances from support from various governments, Iran, Tehran and Syria, as well as donations from the Lebanese people and both local and international Shiites. With the current finances, the influence and the power both as a group and in the government, its forces gained momentum as gaining several thousands in members. The Lebanese government itself secured Hezbullah’s existence with policies that allow the group to continue on in their fight for liberty and recover occupied lands.
According to data from the United States, the two states, Iran and Syria, contribute to not only the finance, but also to the training, weapons, explosive, diplomatic and political aid of the group. Hezbullah is believed to have a budget ranging from $200 million to $500 million, about $100 million coming from Iran. Operations Hezbullah’s main base for operation is in the Lebanon’s Shiite-populated areas.
This includes Beirut, Bekaa Valley and southern parts of Lebanon. But with recent intelligence reports from the U. S. suggest that the group has been starting its expansion of operations, from Africa to Europe, South America and even in North America. The group has at least five thousand core members, consisting of militants and activists. But it varies notably from time to time due to conflicts that the group engages in, most probably conflicts with Israel. US intelligence also reports the presence of at least 60,000 firearms and other weapons in the hands of Hezbullah. It includes both short and long range rockets, and even anti-tank, anti-aircraft and anti-ship arsenals.
With periodic conflicts with Israel, people are concerned that a third Lebanon war may erupt if tensions remain high. Although Israel has officially withdrawn from Lebanon in 2000, and despite the UN certification of the withdrawal of all forces, Hezbullah still periodically create problems in the disputed Shebaa Frams border zone. Consequently, a full scale war erupted during the summer of 2006 and if it weren’t for a UN-led-ceasefire, it probably wouldn’t have stopped any time soon. Even so, it stopped only after taking more than a thousand lives and hundreds of thousands homeless or forced to flee especially the five-week long conflict.
Some major attacks attributed to Hezbullah includes the kidnapping of several Americans in Lebanon during the 1980’s; suicide attacks in a U. S. Marines barracks in Beirut, Lebanon which kills over two hundred American soldiers; the 1983 U. S. Embassy bombing in Beirut that killed 63 people, including 17 Americans; the French multinational force headquarters bombing in 1983 that killed 58 French soldiers; the hijacking of TWA flight 847 that featured in an infamous footage of a pilot with a gun to his head; an attack that killed hundreds in the Israeli embassy and a Jewish community center both in Argentina in 1992 and 1994 respectively.
The most recent major attack claimed by the Hezbullah was on 2006 when they launched a surprise raid on a border post in northern Israel. They took two Israeli soldiers in captive that caused an intense military campaign to be forced against Lebanon. But there was more to the campaign of the Hezbullah. By 2003, they have worked diligently with other Palestinian terrorist organizations such as Hamas, Islamic Jihan, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and especially Tanzim. It has also been reported that Hezbullah has been a major firearms supplier with their allies as in the Hamas.
Analysis It has been with mixed decisions whether Hezbullah is to be considered as a terrorist organization or not. It is a known fact that some countries do not consider the group as a terrorist organization in whole. The United States however, has issued statements against the group, considering them to be a highly-organized terrorist organization. To be able to analyze the group itself, there is a need to answer this question: Should the Hezbullah be considered as a terrorist organization? For the sake of unbiased perspective, we must consider all perspectives.
In the Hezbullah perspective arguments include that fact that (1) the main ideology of the group is based on Islamic ideologies, only more radical ones, (2) every country has the right to protect and maintain its liberty in ways it can, and finally (3) the group is actually a part of the Lebanese government. But then again, nothing gives the right for any person, group and even a country to declare that a country has no reason to exist and that the country and its people should be obliterated.
By this argument plus the known attacks that they have committed and claimed for, it can be concluded that the group can be considered as a terrorist organization. After setting the fact that Hezbullah is a terrorist organization, an analysis can be put in this perspective. From its origin standpoint, the group can be considered outright to be a radical and extremist in thoughts and in action. It is based from their ideological background that was actually derived from a radical form of Islamic Shiite Ideology that Khomeini had started. Its aim, more than anything else, is to destroy the country of Israel and its occupants, and kill the Jews.
The structure of the group can be considered to be a help in their aims and objectives. Considering the separate leadership roles in the group, namely the political, religious and military roles, there are good opportunities to focus to their separate roles. There is a much efficient set of directives that would be of help to the members of the group. But there also is a backfire, if there are any occasions that the three leaders would disagree, the whole group could turn into a separate sub groups, reducing considerably the ability to achieve the objectives of the group.
Considering the strategies of the organization, it could be noted that this is interwoven with the organizations structure. The military strategies of the group should coincide with both the religious and political perspective of the group, and vice versa. With the strategy of the organization to attaining its aims, they will be bounded by international policies only if they want to. Their tactics to complete their objectives can be considered to have lessened in the amount of violence that they have made in the older movements.
Whether it could be accountable for the tighter defense being pushed by their opposition, i. e. U. S. , Israel, or to internal erosion with the group’s desire to succeed, will be a question to be answered in the future. Their targets remained the same, the “Zionist entity” that they refer to Israel, added to the “vanguard” of Israel, the United States. But the question mark lies in the present execution of their objectives, whether they will take it hard, as in violence that includes the public, or will they use a more reasonable action.
The group structure and strategies very much meet their deed to accomplish its task. They may be planning to be more of a supporting group to other terrorist organization with the way they are moving as of the moment. They have no other engagement as of the moment. A possible scenario could be that the group would slowly blend to other terrorist organizations and would create a larger one, with a bigger objective than the original. They may consider to continue on supplying and supporting groups such as Hamas, to help them achieve their ultimate goal.
Courtney from Study Moose
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