Is Hezbollah a terrorist outfit in need of quashing or a people’s party that has stepped in where the Lebanese state failed? In this book, political scientist Aurélie Daher takes a deep dive into Hezbollah’s development and its connection to the Lebanese Shia community. Daher explains how Hezbollah shaped – and has been shaped by – the Lebanese political landscape since its beginnings in the 1980s. She also explores Hezbollah’s place in the larger context of Middle Eastern politics. Though not an easy read, this book gives fascinating insights into Hezbollah’s role in Lebanese history.
The social, economic and political marginalization of the Shia community plays an important role in the origin and history of Hezbollah.
The organized militant activism of the Shia community in Lebanon started in 1967, when Mūsā al-Sadr, a Shia cleric from Iran, gained endorsement from the Lebanese Parliament for creating a Supreme Shiite Council (SSC) to manage the affairs of the Shia community. Al-Sadr also created the (mostly Shia) militant civilian movement under the banner, “the Brigades of the Lebanese Resistance” (AMAL). The movement started in response to Israeli attacks on south Lebanon, where Palestinian forces were allowed to launch their attacks against Israel. Lebanon’s large Shia community was caught in the cross-fire.
In 1978, al-Sadr disappeared during a visit to Libya. His disappearance allowed Sayyid ‘Abbās al-Mūsawī, one of the key players in bringing Hezbollah and the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon (IRL) into existence, to enter the stage. Al-Mūsawī started a group of ulema (Muslim scholars) focused on “resistance against the oppressors.”
Aurélie Daher is Assistant Professor at the Université Paris-Dauphine and a researcher at Sciences Po, specializing in Lebanese and Middle Eastern politics, Shiism and Hezbollah.