Dissertation: Military Development of Hezbollah

Pages: 33 (9563 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 40  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Terrorism  ·  Buy This Paper

Terrorists, politicians, social reformers, paramilitary, liberators; Hezbollah has worn many hats. The most striking feature of this organization though is the incredible evolution the world has witnessed since its inception in 1982 (Kalibi, 1988). Initially, Hezbollah emerged as a liberation minded militia following the Israeli occupation of Lebanon. Though the organization merely hundreds strong flew under a banner of peace and rightful restoration of national sovereignty in fact it was Hezbollah which first utilized suicide bombers as strategic military ordinances in an effort to affect the outcome sought. This initial violence and bloodshed though begot a multifaceted organization which has actually taken a stand not against militia action against "imperialist or Zionist" forces per se but against the unnecessary loss of civilian life (Ajami, 1986).

Though born of terror, in the intervening twenty eight years between its inception and present day Hezbollah has evolved from a grassroots movement whose primary mode of effecting organizational objectives was kidnapping, suicide bombing, and the unfair death and/or detention of civilians to an organization which has openly stood against the suicide bombing of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 putting them at decided odds from organizations such as Al- Qaeda and Hamas who condone acts of violence against civilians and civilian targets (Byman, 2003). Though Hezbollah has evolved conspicuously from its beginnings, it is still to a degree a paramilitary organization engaged in active conflict. Their continued refusal to disarm as well as their anti-Zionist stance makes them a real and present threat to any country, organization, or demographic which pledges support to Israel.

Hezbollah has grown in number from an organization of merely hundreds of members to one which can command demonstrations numbering in the hundreds of thousands (Halliday, 2005). Additionally, previously a strictly Islamic organization, in the last four years Hezbollah has begun talks with a number of other religious groups within Lebanese society stating openly that the cultural, religious, and political freedoms of Lebanon are sanctified and should be supported. The one caveat to that stance though is in the instance of organizations or institutions which openly support Israel (Coban, 1987). The targeting of a country as opposed to a specific religion is another noted difference between Hezbollah and the multitude of other paramilitary organizations currently active in the region. Though anti- Semitic statements and leanings have been attributed to the group, group leaders do identify that it is the sovereignty of Israel which they do not recognize and not specifically Judaism (Hollis & Shehadi, 1996).

Organization:

Though historically it was propagated by Hezbollah that there was no official infrastructure within the organization, as it has emerged as a valid political party and force for social change, that veil of mystery has been thoroughly dispelled. Scholars who have spent significant portions of their careers studying the organization have uncovered multiple layers of accountability and access not unlike any full fledged national government or large corporation. At the head of the organization sit a committee of twelve senior clergy (Hamzeh, 2000). Though to those individuals raised with a western concept of governmental hierarchy the concept of having clergy in the highest position of authority is foreign, this honored practice is in keeping with the concept of "Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists." That phrase means simply that in any organization which claims to be Islamic in creed, there must be a member of clergy at its head (Hamzeh, 2003). In the case of Hezbollah there are twelve. These men sit on a consultative committee which oversees all activities carried out by the Hezbollah organization in Lebanon.

Directly below the consultative committee is another governing body composed of eleven senior clergy members who are charged with the specific decision making processes which will govern the rest of the organization (Hamzeh, 2003). These twenty three senior clergymen are effectively responsible for all of Hezbollah both ideologically as well as strategically. Though considering the size and wide reaching spread of the organization it would be naive to believe that those twenty three individuals were directly involved in the activities of each of the groups incorporated under the banner of the Hezbollah organization it is the strength of the ties within the Islamic community specifically for organizations advertising a strict adherence to the laws of Islam and fighting for the liberation of Lebanon from Israel which is so pervasively respected without question that the adherence to Islamic law in this instance effectively regulates the behavior and organization of members spanning not only regions but even countries (Hamzeh, 1993).

Below these higher governing bodies are individual specialized committees addressing each of seven key areas identified by Hezbollah leadership as crucial to successful achievement of organizational goals. These seven committees include; ideological, financial, military, educational, judicial, social, and informational (Halliday, 2003). Though there'd only one consultative committee and one deciding committee these smaller specialized committees exist in triplicate one residing in each of the three primary regions of influence within Lebanon. The multiplicity of these smaller more specialized units allows for the further specialization of organizational leadership to the particular needs and challenges of individual regions (Khalaf, 2002). The three regions are Beirut, Bequaa, and The South.

Associated Organizations:

Though "Hezbollah" is the permutation of the organization's name most widely used currently there are a significant number of associations and organizations either linked to Hezbollah or which exist as smaller offshoots of the larger primary group. While many of these organizations such as Hezbollah Bayat al Mal or Jihad Al Binna are reasonably innocuous financial and social welfare operations respectively there are quite a few unsavory connections which have been connected to Hezbollah as well (Kamrava, 2005).

The IRSO (Islamic Resistance Support Organization) while appearing on the surface to be a simple fundraising body of the organization in fact harbors a number of unseemly benefactors of their donation collection. In among the humanitarian fund raising efforts are fundraising for programs which pledge support to the families of martyrs. Though "officially" martyrs are defined as those individuals who have lost their lives in the support of Hezbollah objectives it must be remembered that initially those objectives included the strategic suicide bombing of military targets (Norton, 2000). Effectively while this fund raising organization acquired money for projects involving schools and hospitals, even health care and when necessary water it was also directly supporting the initiative to not only care for the families of individual who have chosen to take up the mantel of "suicide bomber" but also additional efforts to finance and arm the paramilitaries operating within Hezbollah (International Crisis Group, 2005).

The Islamic Jihad Organization is one such organization which is a direct sponsor and advocate of terror activities which may or may not be affiliated with Hezbollah (International Crisis Group, 2003). Though Hezbollah has admitted that they are involved nominally with the organization they are not specifically involved in the day-to-day activities and running of the organization It is believed currently that Hezbollah trains the personnel and to a degree funds the activities of the organization. However their specific involvement in the selection of targets, planning and execution of attacks, and overall fear-based propaganda are unclear (International Crisis Group, 2002). The U.S. State Department though maintains that any support or involvement in an organization which engages in terroristic activities is themselves involved in those same activities. Though it is reasonably certain that Hezbollah is involved with IJO, their stance on the type of attacks preferred by the organization makes it difficult to determine not only their degree of involvement but also their actual control over the individuals they are ostensibly training (International Institute for Treategic Studies, 2000).

Goals & Objectives:

The most simple description of the goal of Hezbollah is a completely independent and sovereign state of Lebanon whose interests political, physical and ideological are protected. Initially possessing of a basis in conservative Shi'a Islamism, the religious tolerance and democratic approach to politics employed by Hezbollah has grown exponentially in the years following the 1991 withdrawal of Israeli troops from Lebanon (Jaber, 1997). That said the removal of Israel is still a primary goal within the organization. Though the United Nations verified that Israel had withdrawn from Lebanon in 2000, the continued pretext of armament for Hezbollah has included a number of justifications ranging from continued Israeli occupation of Shebaa farms to the presence of Lebanese citizens in Israeli prisons (Qassem, 2005). Though those critical of the organization cite these justifications as merely excuses to continue the active military engagement and maintenance of power, the fact that Hezbollah has brought a great many positives to the war torn Lebanese people (Saad- Ghorayeb, 2002).

Social & Political Programs:

Hezbollah is directly responsible for a great many social programs which have served to help reconstruct the civilian infrastructure of the country. These efforts include schools, hospitals, community centers, public parks, and even media centers. Hezbollah though not the first paramilitary organization to produce widely syndicated radio and television programs, is the first to fight legally for the right to… [END OF PREVIEW]

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