Hizbullah Plays a Vital Role in the "Broader Middle East"
In the public discussion about future developments in Lebanon and Syria, one organization has often been named as a key factor: Hizbullah. Therefore, it is important to take a closer look at this organization.
What is the history of Hizbullah? What are its aims and objectives? Does Hizbullah deserve to be listed as a “ terrorist group” as held by the United States? In Lebanon, is Hizbullah considered to be a socio-political Party, a guerilla militia or both? The answers to these questions will provide an idea as to what developments might be possible in the strategically important “Broader Middle East.”
Last week we offered a first insight into Lebanon and Syria. One of our experts on the Broader Middle East, Haytham Mouzahem, concentrates now on Hizbullah. Haytham Mouzahem makes the observation that Hizbullah has made a strategic shift from its total refusal of the existence of Israel to a kind of Realpolitik towards Israel’s existence.
There have been no attacks reported by Hizbullah against Israeli forces and civilians since Israel's withdrawal from the South of Lebanon in May 2000 – except the area of the Shabaa Farms in South Lebanon.
Hizbullah still supports the Palestinians and receives support from Iran. Since 1992, Hizbullah has been represented in the Lebanese parliament. Lebanon is the stronghold of Hizbullah. The links to the present Syrian government are tight. It was the present Lebanese President Lahoud who in June 2000 presented a “Medal of Honor” to Hassan Nasrallah, calling him a “national hero.”
Syria is interested in maintaining a strong Hizbullah in Lebanon to serve as protector and guarantor of its vital interests. UN Resolution 1559 asks Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon. The present announcement to move some of these troops to the eastern part of Syria is not in compliance with the UN resolution that in addition calls for the abolition of all militias on Lebanese territory.
What will happen to Hizbullah? Will it give up its military wing and carry on only as a political party? Hizbullah claims to be a party of change and reform. It advocates the “abolition of political sectarianism.” Will it give up the idea to establish the Sharia as the only basis for public life in Lebanon? What is its strategy and what are its tactical moves?
So far, some questions remain unanswered, but one point is crystal clear: There will be no peace and stability in Lebanon without Hizbullah. There can be only a solution with Hizbullah
What should be done? We advocate full compliance with UN Resolution 1559 and free and fair elections in Lebanon in May 2005.
Lebanon should become another symbol of democratization and stability in the “arc of instability.”