What is Hezbollah and what are its goals?
Hezbollah, meaning Party of God in Arabic, is a major force in the Middle East politics. It started off as an Islamic struggle movement and now enjoys the status of one of most influential military, political and social organizations in the Arab context. Based in Lebanon, Hezbollah gets support of Iran, Syria and other Arab nations for its anti-Israel stand while some Western countries consider it a terrorist organization. Currently led by Hassan Nasrallah, it follows the Shi’ite Islamist ideology and enjoys a massive support in Lebanon as well as in many other Arab countries.
Hezbollah was formed as a small-scale guerrilla group to resist Israeli invasion in 1982. Initially formed in southern Lebanon, it declared political existence in 1985. The creation of Hezbollah is closely interlinked with Israel’s brutal actions in Palestine. After the formation of Israel, Lebanon became a home of thousands of Palestinian refugees where different resistant movements were formed. Although Israel has claimed that Hezbollah was operative in Lebanon ever since the Islamic Revolution of Iran, but there are enough evidences that it was formed as a result of full-scale military intervention by Israeli troops in 1982. Even Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak has noted: “When we entered Lebanon, there was no Hezbollah …It was our presence there that created Hezbollah.” Hezbollah became the single most powerful force in Lebanon under the leadership of Hassan Nasrallah. He became movement’s secretary-general after the assassination of Abbas al-Mussawi by Israel in 1992. Hezbollah initially started threatening the Israeli presence in Lebanon through a series of guerrilla attacks under his leadership. However, when Israeli forces struck his home and office in Beirut's southern suburbs, it declared “open war” against the Jewish state. By repeatedly holding its own against the much-larger and well-equipped Israeli forces, it won support from many sides and became the most successful anti-Israeli force in the Middle East. The group also played an important part in uplifting the social and economic situation in Lebanon which further added to its popularity and later led to its victory in Lebanon's general elections. Over the years, Hezbollah has been polishing its image as a heroic military group which can not only protect Lebanon by inflicting damage on the much stronger Israeli army but can also work for the social and educational development of the country. Hassan Nasrallah has emerged as a popular leader who tactfully fought against Israel’s invasion and achieved the unthinkable by causing military losses to the otherwise well-armed Israeli forces. He became the voice for the cause of Lebanon and Palestine and gradually became one of the most popular figures of the Middle East’s history. As a military and political movement, Hezbollah has a following major goals and objectives:
- To end foreign occupation and fight against Israel and end its inhuman practices in Lebanon, Palestine and the rest of the Middle East.
- To become a voice of innocent Lebanese citizens and to show that Israel is not invincible.
- To participate in Lebanese national politics and influence its domestic and foreign policy for the betterment of the region.
- To present the true picture of Islam, a religion that is logical, practical and in accordance with modern day requirements.
- To work for the social and economic development of Lebanon through its services in the fields of health, education, agriculture and offering charitable services of different kinds.