Hezbollah militia is one of the main causes of internal instability in Lebanon and the region, and since the founding of the Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah in 1982, it has been implementing Iran’s plans throughout the Middle East.
Here are the details of one of the most important relationships in the Middle East today:
Who is Hezbollah?
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard established the group in 1982, with the aim of exporting the Islamic revolution and fighting the Israeli forces that invaded Lebanon in the same year.
Hezbollah shares Tehran’s Shiite ideology, and considers Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also its political guide and spiritual inspiration.
Hezbollah, which the United States and other Western countries designate as a terrorist organization, has a military wing, which the party acknowledges is financed and armed by Iran.
The group also controls a formidable intelligence apparatus, and carries out security-maintaining tasks in its own areas of southern Beirut and southern Lebanon, as well as the border areas with Syria.
Members of the Hezbollah militia
The party also has deputies in parliament and ministers in the government.
His political influence expanded in 2018, when he and his allies won a majority of seats in the House of Representatives.
Among its commercial activities, the party runs an empire of retail outlets and a construction company. The party also runs schools and clinics.
The group’s strength has grown, and it has become stronger than the Lebanese state itself over the past four decades, and its name has been associated with the conflict with Israel.
The party’s fighters forced Israel out of Lebanon in 2000 and fired 4,000 missiles at Israel in a 34-day war in 2006. Since then, the party has rearmed itself to grow stronger than ever.
The group is accused of carrying out bomb attacks outside Lebanon’s borders.
Argentina points the finger at Hezbollah and Iran in the bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people in 1994 and in an attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 that killed 29 people. The party and Tehran deny responsibility for the bombings.
Bulgaria also accused Hezbollah of carrying out a bomb attack that killed five Israeli tourists in the Black Sea city of Burgas in 2012. The party has denied involvement.
How does Hezbollah help Iran in the region?
Hezbollah helps Iran project its power across the region. The Secretary-General of the party, Hassan Nasrallah, is a prominent figure in the “axis of resistance” led by Iran, in the face of Israel, the United States and its Arab allies.
Nasrallah, a charismatic speaker, helps mobilize and organize Tehran’s Arab alliances.
The close link between Hezbollah and Iran was clearly demonstrated when, in 2013, the party entered the quagmire of the Syrian war alongside Tehran, defending their common ally, President Bashar al-Assad.
In Iraq, Hezbollah has openly declared that it supports the armed Shiite militias backed by Iran.
In Yemen, the Saudi-led coalition says the party supports the Iran-allied Houthis in their war against the Saudi-led coalition.
In 2017, the group denied sending any weapons to Yemen, and the party acknowledges supporting the Palestinian movement Hamas.
Hezbollah militia flag
Where is Lebanon’s place in the game?
Mysterious groups, which Lebanese security officials and Western intelligence officials say are linked to Hezbollah, launched attacks that forced the withdrawal of US forces from Lebanon in the early 1980s, including suicide attacks on Western embassies. Hezbollah has never confirmed or denied responsibility for the attacks.
Hezbollah entered politics in Lebanon more clearly after the martyrdom of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and the withdrawal of Syrian forces from the country in 2005.
A UN-backed court last year indicted a Hezbollah member for plotting to kill Hariri, who was seen as a threat to Iranian and Syrian influence in Lebanon. However, the court did not find conclusive evidence confirming the direct involvement of Hezbollah’s leadership.
The party denies any role in Hariri’s killing and accuses the court of being a puppet of its enemies in the United States and Israel.
As the party’s base and starting point, Lebanon occupies a huge area of interest for both the group and Iran. The party uses its political, and sometimes military, influence to counter threats from its Lebanese opponents who say its vast arsenal of weapons is undermining the state.
In 2008, Hezbollah fighters took control of Beirut when a conflict erupted with a government backed by Saudi Arabia and the West at the time.
Recently, the group has been leading calls for the dismissal of the chief investigator in the Beirut port explosion, Judge Tariq Bitar, who is pursuing some of its closest allies on charges of negligence. The party says the investigation is politicized and biased.