Garbis Altinoglu

Who Does Hizbullah Represent in Class Terms?

Written: 2006.
Source: Alliance-ML Archives.
Online Version: Garbis Altinoglu Internet Archive.
Transcribed/HTML Markup: The American Party of Labor, 2019.
Proofread: Alvaro Miranda (April 2021).
Translator’s Note: Citations and links have been revised and updated from the original Alliance-ML edition. – MB, 2019


Garbis Altinoglu

It is impossible to appraise the recent war launched by Israel without understanding the overall geopolitical strategy of Israel.

In 1982, the Hebrew journal Kivunim – the official organ of the World Zionist Organization – published an article by former Israeli Foreign Ministry official Oded Yinon, who observed that: “Iraq, rich in oil on the one hand and internally torn on the other, is guaranteed as a candidate for Israel’s targets. Its dissolution is even more important for us than that of Syria... In the short run it is Iraqi power which constitutes the greatest threat to Israel ... Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation will assist us in the short run and will shorten the way to the more important aim of breaking up Iraq into denominations as in Syria and in Lebanon. In Iraq, a division into provinces along ethnic/religious lines as in Syria during Ottoman times is possible. So, three (or more) states will exist around the three major cities: Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, and Shi’ite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni and Kurdish north.” (August 07, 2006: The Four-Frontal War: Covert Operations Escalate in Middle East and the Horn of Africa Civil War Looms in Iraq, The Cutting Edge

To assist this fragmentation, the militant organizations fighting the Zionist allies of imperialism, are portrayed variously as either sectarians of the Muslim religion (‘Shi’ite’ or ‘Sunni’) – or as the pawns of some power or other in the Middle East. (note: Shi’ite is also rendered variously as Shia or Shi’ia).

To Marxist-Leninists, whether the Hizbullah are compradors to the Syrian state, or whether they are nationalist bourgeoisie, is an important question. In the context of the Lebanese war now raging, it is not the most immediate question.

That remains the war of resistance to the Zionist imperialist war machine that has ravaged Palestine repeatedly, Iraq recently, Lebanon twice in the last 20 years – and now looms over Iran. Nonetheless, we would be foolish not to characterize the class forces of Hizbullah accurately.

Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah of the Hizbullah, explicitly states that Hizbullah is part of the national independence movement in Lebanon:

“Now, our priority – as Lebanon, homeland, people, government resistance, and army – is to emerge from this battle victorious with our heads high. Being forces that have zeal for Lebanon, its dignity, and pride, I faithfully say that this is Lebanon’s true battle of independence. If we win this battle, this means that we, the Lebanese people, will tell the whole world that we will be the decision-makers. We will even be able to tell the embassies that are interfering in our internal affairs not to interfere in our internal affairs. This is a battle of true independence.” Interview with Hizbullah Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah; July 22, 2006 All-Jazeera interviews Hizbullah chief; Interview by Al-Jazeera Beirut Bureau Chief Ghassan Bin-Jiddu

How much confidence can Marxist-Leninist have that Hizbullah is not a pawn of Iranian or Syrian interests? Does Hizbullah follow a ’fundamentalist’ Islamic religious line – as opposed to a national liberationist line? Is Hizbullah an individual terrorist organization – or is it leading a national resistance movement?

The ‘Confessional’ Divides Are Class Divisions

The long history of fostering division in Lebanon, in its modern form, began when the French imperialists promoted the Maronite Christian sector of society. This resulted in the following currently acknowledged situation:

“Shiites have long been at the bottom of the country’s economic ladder, with high unemployment and illiteracy rates. Lebanon’s Christian and Sunni classes have dominated the country’s political and business circles.”

“Fighting Force: Amid Ties to Iran, Hizbullah Builds Its Own Identity Shiite Group’s Leader Vows Defiance After Israeli Hit; A Gift for Propaganda ’Frighteningly Professional”
By Jay Solomon And Karby Leggett; Wall Street Journal, July 21, 2006; Page A1

A British Marxist-Leninist, W.B. Bland, put this into class terms, in 1987, as follows:

The main social classes in Lebanon are:

1) a comprador capitalist class, drawn mainly from the Christian community, closely linked with and dependent upon foreign – principally United States – imperialism;
2) a landlord class, drawn mainly from the Sunni Moslem community;
3) a national bourgeoisie, drawn mainly from the various Moslem communities;
4) a peasantry, drawn mainly from the Moslem communities; and
5) a small working class numbering 100,000, drawn mainly from the Moslem communities and involved mainly in the oil-processing and textile industries.

Up till the Lebanese Civil War of 1982, the so-called National Pact left a guarantee of the comprador status of the state, as analysed by Bland:

“The Constitution is one of ‘parliamentary democracy’. The Head of State is a President who is elected by a single-chamber elected National Assembly. However, this body is elected under laws which give the economically dominant Christian community a majority of seats – based on the ratio of Christians to Moslems in the population (6:5) as shown in the (last) Census of 1932. The domination of the state by the Christian community – in practice by the predominantly Christian comprador capitalist class – is reinforced by an unwritten convention agreed between representatives of the four religious communities in 1943. By this convention it was agreed that the President should always be a Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Moslem and the Speaker of the National Assembly a Shia Moslem.

The interests of the comprador capitalists and landlords are represented politically by the National Liberal Party (a vehicle of the financial groups around the Chamoun family) and the Phalangist Party (named after Franco’s fascist party and a vehicle of the financial groups around the Gemayel family). The most progressive of the political parties are the Progressive Socialist Party, founded in 1947 and now led by Walid Jumblatt (a Druze), and the revisionist Lebanese Communist Party, which represent the interests of the national bourgeoisie.

The officers of the army are drawn predominantly from the politically and economically dominant Christian community, while the rank and file are divided into separate units on a religious basis. This brought about a break-up of the army in the civil war of 1975–6, when masses of soldiers deserted to different private militias. From that time the army, and the central state apparatus, has been almost impotent. The elections due in April 1976 were postponed because of the civil war, and no elections have been able to be held since. Unable to collect taxes over most of the country, the state has become increasingly dependent upon foreign aid – principally from Britain, Saudi Arabia and the United States: in the first half of 1984 alone Lebanon’s balance of payments deficit stood at $700 million. Effective political power is exercised locally by:

1) the foreign occupying forces of Syria in the north and west;
2) rival para-military forces armed and financed by the neighbouring states of Iraq, Israel and Syria;
3) rival para-military forces armed and financed by the political parties of the Lebanese ruling classes – the Tigers of the National Liberal Party and the Lebanese Forces of the Phalangists; and
4) a para-military force of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (the Palestine Liberation Army), armed and financed by certain Arab states (principally Syria, Libya and Saudi Arabia) and (since July 1972) by the Soviet Union. The PLO contains factions financed and armed by, and subservient to, different states, a number of which are mere small terrorist organisations.” Bland, Ibid.

Hizbullah and the Shi’ia (note: Name is variously rendered as Hezbollah, Hizbullah, and Hiz’bullah). The term in Arabic means ‘Party of God’. The organization was definitely in origin, a Shi’ite militia, and it remains so.

Islam traces its main division into Sunni and Shi’ia wings, to events after Mohammed’s death. Mohammed Ibn Abdullah (570–632 AD) was born a nobleman, and from his ‘revelations from the angel Gabriel’, he delivered the Muslim Holy Book the ‘Koran’. Becoming known as Mahomet – ‘God’s Messenger’ – he created a religion suiting the nomadic warring desert tribes. Welding in the result, a unity that enabled control of surrounding trade routes. Upon his death, there was no successor (Kalifah, or Caliph). A consensus agreement on leadership established that the leaders of Mohammed’s tribe, the Quaraysh, would be Caliphs. However, divisions erupted in 659 AD, when Mohammed’s cousin and son-in-law – Ali – took the Caliphate. Ali insisted that only direct family of Mohammed and his daughter Fatimah could be heirs to Mahomet. Ali was assassinated in 661, by the rest of the community. Followers of Ali became known as the Shi’ia and the remaining Muslims were Sunni. Sectarian divisions were frequent hereafter. (Further detail at: in Alliance, Issue 51; article entitled: The Syrian National Revolution – The Role Of Khaled Bakdash (

The Shi’ii believe that the Twelfth Imam in Ali’s line is in hiding. The high authorities of the Sh’ia clergy take a “stand-in’ to be the ‘Supreme Jurist’. This position (al-wali al-faqih) was taken by the Ayatollah Khomeini, after the removal of the USA comprador Shah Pavlavi of Iran. Khomeini had studied at the seminary at Najaf, from where many of Hizbullah’s leaders would emerge.

Origins of Hizbullah

The Hizbullah organization emerged after the 1982 Civil War of Lebanon. It was formed from smaller militia of a Shi’ia background:

“Some organizations list the official formation of the group as early as 1982, whereas (others) maintain that Hizbullah remained an amalgamation of various violent Shi’ia extremists until as late as 1985. Regardless of when the name came into official use, a number of Shi’ia groups were slowly assimilated into the organization, such as Islamic Jihad, Organization of the Oppressed on Earth and the Revolutionary Justice Organization. These designations are considered to be synonymous with Hizbullah by the US, Israel and Canada”.

Another major antecedent group was the ‘Movement of the Disinherited’ (harahat al-mahrumin) which was led by Imam Musa al-Sadr, and which called for reform of the Lebanese system. He disappeared mysteriously – likely instigated by Western agencies – on a trip to Libya in 1978. Finally, a secular militant group known as Amal (afwaj-al-muqawamat-al-lubaniyya – Battalion of the Lebanese Resistance) led by Nabih Berri, had developed within al-Sadr’s grouping.

Relations With Iran and Syria


The aftermath of the Lebanese Civil War, fomented by Israel, and the Israeli invasion of Beirut in 1982 itself, left the state of Lebanon completely disrupted. Into this vacuum, both Syria and Iran entered, hoping to control the state through proxies. Syria had been trying for some time to control sections of Lebanon – and rapidly occupied when an invitation was arranged from Prime Minister Selim al-Hiss to station troops Lebanon to “maintain order”.

In the post Civil War cauldron of Lebanon, instability was worrying to the Arab regional states and to the USA imperialists. They initiated “The Taif Agreement” of 1989 brokered by the Arab League.

“In 1982, Rafik Hariri ... acted as an envoy of the Saudi royal family to the country. He laid the ground work, along with Philip Habib, the US envoy to Lebanon at that time, that led to the 1989 Taif Accord which he organized and hosted at his own expense. Taif put an end to the civil war and paved the way for himself to become prime minister (of Lebanon).”

The Arab League is a body uniting the regional comprador states of the area. The Taif Agreement served at that time, to assist the Israelis and imperialists to disarm Lebanese militia, that it itself had been unable to do by war and by fomenting civil war. They turned to Syria, to perform the work of the imperialists, in now controlling the chaos in the aftermath of Israeli-led war in Lebanon.

Under the Document of National Reconciliation (The Taif Agreement) the Arab League ensured that:

I) There was an increase in the ratio of Muslim to Christian seats in parliament – but it was only an update of the ‘National Pact’ – it did not change the essence of it;
II) Syria was accorded a ‘special interest’ in Lebanon and would assist the Lebanese government by ‘disarming all the militia”.
III) Syria could retain troops inside Lebanon till an undefined future date to be negotiated. Harik, J.P., Ibid., p. 45.

Syria now assisted the Amal and Hizbullah to finally defeat the Lebanese Army led by Maronite General Michel Aoun, former head of the 1988 government, who strongly resisted Syria’s new dominance (Harik, J.P., Ibid., p. 45). He was then forced into exile.

But Syria became quickly unpopular with brutal tactics:

“Damascus and Assad expected to have a tight grip on Hizbullah ... this expectation was tested in 1987 when Hizbullah partisans refused to remove a checkpoint from the road before their West Beirut barracks on orders of Syrian troops ... The Syrian officer ... shot them.” Harik, J.P., Ibid., p. 40.

Although at times, Syria is supported by Hizbullah, no significant section of Hizbullah can be seen today as a comprador force for Syria (see below for post-Hariri assassination history).

Relationship to Iran

Most sources agree that the Khomeini Iranian government after taking power in 1979 by overthrowing the Shah of Iran, gave significant early aid to the Hizbullah after 1982. An early envoy to the group was Fazallah Mahallati, sent by Ayatollah Khomeini (Harik, J.P., Ibid., p. 53). However the extent to which Iran and Hizbullah now share the same immediate goals are disputed:

“Hizbullah’s strength was enhanced by the dispatching of one thousand to fifteen hundred members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the financial backing of Iran. It became the main politico-military force among the Shia community in Lebanon and the main arm of what became known later as the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon. Hizbullah follows a Shiite Islamist ideology shared by the leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, but it has abandoned its goal of establishing a fundamentalist Shiite state in Lebanon. Many people in Hizbullah said many times that they have never had such a target”.

“From its start in the early 1980s, Hizbullah, a Shiite Muslim group, had a close association with the leaders of Shiite-dominated Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution. Lebanon’s Shiite community is estimated to be around 40% of the nation’s population ... Iran’s financial aid and religious oversight in the 1980s helped galvanize Lebanon’s Shiites. U.S. intelligence officials based in Beirut during the period say cadres from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard encouraged women to wear the Islamic veil and inspired social groups and charities in Lebanon’s Shiite slums. Young Lebanese Shiite men went to Iran for military training.” Solomon And Leggett, Ibid.

This strong reliance on Iranian weaponry persists to this day, and in this current war of national liberation against Israel:

“Even as Mr. Nasrallah has developed Hizbullah into an independent force, he has also deepened its ties with Iran. U.S. and Israeli officials say a steady stream of Iranian military hardware flows to Hizbullah through Syria – including night-vision goggles, machine guns, explosives, rockets and missiles. These officials say Iran has also supplied a long-range guided missile known as the Zelzal, which military experts believe can reach Tel Aviv from Lebanon. In all, Iran is estimated by some military analysts to provide Hizbullah as much as $120 million a year for its activities. Hizbullah’s annual budget is estimated to be at least $250 million, experts on the group say. Revolutionary Guard agents continue to train Hizbullah fighters, both in southern Lebanon and in Iran itself, U.S. and Israeli officials say. Iran denies it has agents in Lebanon, as does Hizbullah. Solomon And Leggett, Ibid.

So is this current reliance on weaponry, of itself, a determining key to the national aspirations of Hizbullah? After all resistance fighters need arms, in order to resist. Hizbullah would hardly get arms from the EC or the USA.

Internal Conflicts Within Hizbullah on Foreign Alliances and Secular Politics

An early struggle took place within the leading circles of Hizbullah, over its orientation, which was dominated by the poverty of the Shi’ite majority population. The question quickly became, how secular to be or in other words, how narrowly Shi’ite and Islamicist to be.

This concretely took the form of whether to insist on a ‘Jihadist’ view of the struggle, excluding non-Shi’ite forces – or to form alliances with non-Shi’ia forces?

The context within which this debate unfolded, was the failure of the post French mandate system of the so-called ‘National Pact’. This Pact was noted both by Marxist-Leninists such as Bland (see above), and by other observers, as serving Maronite comprador interests, and iniquitous:

“As time passed dissatisfaction with the ... political system increased.. the secular arrangement of 1943 had ... ossified into a system that guaranteed Christian political domination regardless of that sect’s size in comparison to that of the other confessional groups suspected of outstripping Maronite numbers over the years ... By all measurements, peripheral regions such as the Baaka valley and the South where Shiites are concentrated were severely deprived of even such basics as sewer networks and clean water distribution.. As a result of rising discontent in the 1950s and 1960s, the issue of social justice became another one of contention between ... most Muslims and some Christians (who were pro-Arab) ... and the pro-Western position of the majority of Christians.” Judith Palmer Harik, Hizbullah – the Changing Face of Terrorism, London 2004, pp. 17–18

“Muslims thought their best chance for development and influence lay with taking the religious component out of the governing formula completely.” Harik, J.P., Ibid., p. 19

The Hizbullah ruling circles were split. The leadership of the Hizbullah was from the beginning heavily influenced by graduates of the Najaf religious seminary – where they were taught by Sheikhs Mohammed Baqer al-Sadr and Ruhallah Khomeini. The Consultative Council (Majlis al-shura) was initially dominated by pro-Iranian and pro-Syrian forces led by the First Secretary General Sheikh Tufeil, who was a follower of an ultra-orthodox faction in Iran led by Ali Akbar Mohtashemi (Harik, Ibid., p. 55).

Following the death of Khomeini in 1989, Iran was itself toning down Islamic rhetoric under President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. Meanwhile the Iranian spiritual leadership was taken over by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who was as ‘purist’ as Khomeini had been, and became Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. A debate erupted within Hizbullah, as to how ‘fundamentalist’ or how secular – Hizbullah should become.

Sheikh Tufeil sided with the pro-Iranian wing. They adopted a strict ‘Fundamentalist’ viewpoint. They were a pro-Iranian comprador force (Harik, Ibid., p. 56).

Sayyed Fadlallah was a key figure, being a ‘marjaa’ (“one of the few Shi’ite clerics in the world to be elevated to the rank of Jurist” Harik, Ibid., p. 60). Fadlallah was willing to compromise with a pro-national wing that recognized the need to develop secular united fronts with the Maronite Christians and knew that a fundamentalist policy would not achieve a united free Lebanon (Harik, Ibid., p. 56). He had always been an advocate of religious coexistence:

“Fadlallah believes that religious scholars should work through multiple institutions, and should not affiliate with a single political party or be involved in affairs of worldly government. In these beliefs, he is close to traditional Shi’ia jurisprudence, and distant from the concept of velayat-e faqih (rule of the clerics) promulgated by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran.” Deeb, L., Hizballah: A Primer; Lara Deeb, July 31, 2006;

He allied to the wing led by Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Sheikh Ibrahim Amin al-Sayyed. That argued for a ‘flexible’ approach that would win allies within the Christian and Druze communities. It was this national bourgeois wing that took over Hizbullah, replacing the secretary general by Shiekh Abbas al-Musawi.

Initially the division was papered over. But when Tufeil led a Bekka demonstration (‘The Revolt of the Hungry’) on sectarian lines, he was cut off by Hizbullah (Harik, Ibid., p. 59).

Following these debates, the Hizbullah poured much of its time, energy and resources into developing a welfare and social infrastructure. By the mid 1990’s a majority of the Lebanese irrespective of their denomination were impressed by the Hizbullah resistance to Israel. Israel had annexed lands in South Lebanon, and had been pumping a precious resource – water – out of Lebanon (J.P. Harik, Ibid., p. 49). This non-sectarian support for Hizbullah was confirmed in pre-electoral polls in 1992. The Hizbullah also began to strongly emphasise a different thrust to “jihad”:

“Among the most obvious were the public and social services offered to the umma (the religious congregation) and the burgeoning networks of mosques and husseini yyas (places of religious congregation). Furthermore, as doing jihad is not just only the act of fighting but also doing anything conducive to victory – for example providing financial support – Hizbullah’s campaign against the Israelis in South Lebanon provides a means of fulfilling sacred religious obligations” ... Fadlallah ... established a number of important charitable institutions like an Islamic orphanage and a religious school ... a large modern medical facility. Harik, Ibid., p. 60–61.

Currently, the leader of the organization is Nasrallah. He is a cleric who trained at Najaf, in Iraq:

“46-year-old Mr. Nasrallah, Hizbullah’s secretary-general, took control of Hizbullah in 1992 ... He studied for three years at a Shiite seminary in the Iraqi city of Najaf ... He gained the respect of many Hizbullah fighters by spending significant time at the Israeli front, these people say. Mr. Nasrallah’s own son was killed fighting against Israel, sealing Mr. Nasrallah’s reputation as a man willing to sacrifice for his cause. He was held in even higher esteem when, upon viewing the bodies of the dead fighters, he didn’t linger any longer over his own son’s body than over the others.” Jay Solomon & Karby Leggett; Wall Street Journal, Ibid.

“Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah ... while he is also a religious scholar, and also studied at Najaf, he does not rank highly enough to be a marja’ al-taqlid and instead is a religious follower of Khamenei. Nasrallah became Hizbullah’s Secretary-General in 1992, after Israel assassinated his predecessor, Sayyid ’Abbas al-Musawi, along with his wife and 5 year-old son.” Deeb, L., Ibid.

A key defining feature of Nasrallah’s leadership was electoral participation:

“It was under his (i.e. Nasrallah) leadership that Hizballah committed itself to working within the state and began participating in elections, a decision that alienated some of the more revolution-oriented clerics in the leadership.” Deeb, L., Ibid.

Hizbullah was immediately an electoral success:

“When the first post-war elections were held in Lebanon in 1992, many of the various militia groups (which had often grown out of political parties) reverted to their political party status and participated. Hizballah also chose to participate, declaring its intention to work within the existing Lebanese political system, while keeping its weapons to continue its guerrilla campaign against the Israeli occupation in the south, as allowed by the Ta’if accord. In that first election, the party won eight seats, giving them the largest single bloc in the 128-member parliament, and its allies won an additional four seats.” Deeb, L., Ibid.

One reason for their success at the polls was their refusal to engage in corruption:

“Hizballah developed a reputation – even among those who disagree vehemently with their ideologies – for being a ‘clean’ and capable political party on both the national and local levels. This reputation is especially important in Lebanon, where government corruption is assumed, clientelism is the norm and political positions are often inherited”. Deeb, L., Ibid.

“Israeli attacks on Lebanese civilians and infrastructure – including the destruction of power plants in Beirut in 1996, 1999 and 2000 – generally contributed to increases in national support for the Resistance. This was especially true after Israel bombed a UN bunker where civilians had taken refuge in Qana on April 18, 1996, killing 106 people.” Deeb, L., Ibid.

Hizbullah After the Assassination of Hariri and the 2005 Withdrawal of Syria/h3>

We noted earlier that Rafik Hariri (1944–2005) was instrumental in brokering the Taif Agreement, which then suited the plans of Israel and the USA. He was always a representative of the comprador forces for US imperialism as the Prime Minister. When US imperialism and Israel switched form the policy of stabilising Lebanon (exemplified by the Taif Agreement) to one of disrupting it anew, they wished to re-define anew Syria’s role in Lebanon – Hariri complied:

“Hariri served as Prime Minister of Lebanon from 1992 to 1998, then again from 2000 until late 2004. However, amid the political crisis brought on by the extension of President Emile Lahoud’s term, which was brought about by pressure from Syria, Hariri resigned as Prime Minister (he resigned in 1998 for about the same reason), saying: ‘I have ... submitted the resignation of the government, and I have declared that I will not be a candidate to head the (next) government.’

Elsewhere, Garbis Altinoglu has discussed the assassination of Hariri which served as an early signal of Israel’s coming war: (

This was made the pretext to remove Syria from the Lebanese political scene. This had been bruited for a year – under the UN Resolution 1559. Under this clause, all militia in Lebanon were supposed to be disarmed, and this meant the withdrawal of Syria:

“On September 2, 2004, the UN Security Council adopted UN Security Council Resolution 1559, coauthored by France and the United States. Echoing the Taif Agreement, the resolution ‘calls upon all remaining foreign forces to withdraw from Lebanon’ and ‘for the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias.’ Lebanon has requested that Israel withdraw from the disputed Shebaa Farms and the hills of Kfar-Shouba and return the Lebanese detainees in Israel as a condition for fully implementing Resolution 1559 which includes disbanding of the military wing of Hizbullah. Critics of the resolution argue however that an attempt from the weak and confessionally divided Lebanese army to disarm Hizbullah would be very difficult and could restart the Lebanese civil war. Syria was also in violation of the resolution until recently because of their military presence in Lebanon.”

On October 7, 2004 the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan reported to the Security Council regarding the lack of compliance with Resolution 1559. Mr. Annan concluded his report by saying:

“It is time, 14 years after the end of hostilities and four years after the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, for all parties concerned to set aside the remaining vestiges of the past. The withdrawal of foreign forces and the disbandment and disarmament of militias would, with finality, end that sad chapter of Lebanese history.”

The January 20, 2005 UN Secretary-General’s report on Lebanon stated that.

“The continually asserted position of the Government of Lebanon that the Blue Line is not valid in the Shab’a farms area is not compatible with Security Council resolutions. The Council has recognized the Blue Line as valid for purposes of confirming Israel’s withdrawal pursuant to resolution 425 (1978). The UN Security Council has repeatedly requested that all parties respect the Blue Line in its entirety.”

Lands occupied by Israel of Lebanon – the Shebaa Farms and Kfar-Shouba – were ruled as irrelevant as they were deemed as not belonging to Lebanon, but to Syria. This subterfuge enabled the UN to insist on disarming both Syria and Hizbullah, leaving Israel in control of land it wished. That this was linked to water was not mentioned in the UN resolution (Harik, J.P., Ibid., p. 139–40). Nor was the fact that it had first been mapped by Lebanese authorities, a fact that Israeli scholars (Asher Kaufman) pointed out (Harik, Ibid., p. 142). Somehow Israel’s long-standing violations of UN Resolutions in the matter of Palestine or Lebanon did not impede its belligerent insistence on the position of Resolution 1559.

The anti-Syrian movement was euphemistically dubbed by the USA imperialist diplomats as ‘The Cedar Revolution”:

“The name ‘Cedar Revolution’ is a term that was coined by the U.S. Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula J. Dobriansky in a news conference, and used to draw a comparison with the Rose Revolution of Georgia, the Orange Revolution of Ukraine, and the ‘Purple Revolution’ (as described by George W. Bush) of Iraq.”

The assassination was followed by huge demonstrations – both pro- and anti-Syrian presence in Lebanon:

“Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah called for a ‘massive popular gathering’ on March 8 supporting Syria and accusing Israel and the United States of meddling in internal affairs. Nasrallah also criticized UN Resolution 1559 saying ‘The resistance will not give up its arms ... because Lebanon needs the resistance to defend it’, and added ‘all the articles of U.N. resolution give free services to the Israeli enemy who should have been made accountable for his crimes and now finds that he is being rewarded for his crimes and achieves all its demands.’ This Beirut rally called by Hizbollah dwarfed the earlier anti-Syrian events; CNN noted some news agencies estimated the crowd at 200,000, the Associated Press news agency estimated that there were more than 500,000 pro-Syrian protestors, while the New York Times and Los Angeles Times simply estimated ␀hundreds of thousands’. Al Jazeera reported a figure of 1.5 million. The predominantly Shi’ite protestors held pictures of Syrian President Bashar Assad and placards reading, in English, ‘No for the American Intervention’. A couple of anti-Syrian media sources noted that it was likely that many of Lebanon’s approximately 500,000 Syrian guest workers participated in the rally. In addition to demonstrating the extent of popular support for Syria in Lebanon, the demonstration reiterated Hizbullah’s rejection of Resolution 1559, whose call for the disbanding of all Lebanese militias threatens the continued existence of its military wing, the force widely credited for the liberation of south Lebanon. Nasrallah also held demonstrations in Tripoli and Nabatiyé on 11 and 13 March.


“On March 14, the one-month anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, hundreds of thousands of confessionally diverse Lebanese, including significant numbers of Christians, Druze, Shiite and Sunni Muslims, rallied in central Beirut on Monday chanting ‘Freedom, Sovereignty, Independence’ and carrying a huge Lebanese flag. They flocked from throughout the country, many unable to even enter the city due to heavy traffic. The peaceful rally was considered to be ‘the largest demonstration ever seen in Lebanon’, with estimations of a turnout ranging from 800,000 to more than one million ... The Lebanese protestors demanded an international inquiry into Hariri’s murder, the firing of Syrian-backed security chiefs in the Lebanese government, and a total Syrian pullout from Lebanon ...”

By April 26 2005, the Syrian troops and agents had crossed the border back to Syria.

Had this pro-Syrian stance of Hizbullah affected its standing with the masses, as gauged by electoral politics? It does not appear so.

“After the Syrian withdrawal, it became evident that the party would play a larger role in the Lebanese government. Indeed, in the 2005 elections, Hizballah increased their parliamentary seats to 14, in a voting bloc with other parties that took 35. Also in 2005, for the first time, the party chose to participate in the cabinet, and currently holds the Ministry of Energy ...

“The first item on Hizballah’s 2005 electoral platform pledged to ‘safeguard Lebanon’s independence and protect it from the Israeli menace by safeguarding the Resistance, Hizballah’s military wing and its weapons, in order to achieve total liberation of Lebanese occupied land.’ This stance places the party at odds with UN Security Council Resolution 1559, which called for the ‘disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias’ in September 2004, and with those political forces in Lebanon that seek to implement the resolution. Prior to the July events, Nasrallah and other party leaders attended a series of ‘national dialogue’ meetings aimed at setting the terms for Hizballah’s disarmament. The dialogue had not come to any conclusions by the beginning of the current violence, in part because of Hizballah’s insistence that its arms were still needed to defend Lebanon.” Deeb, L., Ibid.

The Social Welfare Policies of Hizbullah

No doubt the Hizbullah’s special welfare role – often exceeding that of the Lebanese state – plays a large part in its popularity:

“But the party has a social platform as well, and views itself as representing not only Shi’i Lebanese, but also the poor more generally. The Amal militia formed by Sayyid Musa al-Sadr developed into a political party as well, and has been Hizballah’s main political rival among Shi’i Lebanese, though they are now working in tandem. The longtime speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri, Amal’s leader, is the intermediary between Hizballah and diplomats inquiring about ceasefire terms and a prisoner exchange.” Deeb, L., Ibid.

“Hizballah ... has a broad base of support throughout the south and the country – a base of support that is not necessarily dependent on sect ... Nor does one’s socio-economic status ... the party’s popularity is based in part on its dedication to the poor, but also on its political platforms and record in Lebanon, its Islamist ideologies, and its resistance to Israeli occupation and violations of Lebanese sovereignty. Hizballah’s ... constituents are not only the poor, but increasingly come from the middle classes” Deeb, L., Ibid.

It also has an insistence on resisting sectarian politics. It consciously makes alliances with other denominations, even those who have been at times violent enemies of Hizbullah, such as Michel Aoun:

“The party (is) on multi-confessional district slates rather than as individuals, and it allies (however temporarily) with politicians who do not back its program. In the 2005 parliamentary contests, the Sunni on Hizballah’s slate in Sidon was Bahiyya al-Hariri, sister of the assassinated ex-premier. Since the elections, the strongest ally of the Shi’i movement has been the former general, Michel Aoun ... A Shi’i Muslim social welfare network developed in the 1970s and 1980s, with key actors including al-Sadr, Fadlallah and Hizballah.

Today, Hizballah functions as an umbrella organization under which many social welfare institutions are run. Some of these institutions provide monthly support and supplemental nutritional, educational, housing and health assistance for the poor; others focus on supporting orphans; still others are devoted to reconstruction of war-damaged areas. There are also Hizballah-affiliated schools, clinics and low-cost hospitals, including a school for children with Down’s syndrome. These social welfare institutions are located around Lebanon and serve the local people regardless of sect, though they are concentrated in the mainly Shi’i Muslim areas of the country. They are run almost entirely through volunteer labor, mostly that of women, and much of their funding stems from individual donations, orphan sponsorships and religious taxes... called the khums, one fifth of the income they do not need for their own family’s upkeep. Half of this tithe is given to the care of the marja’ they recognize. Since 1995, when Khamenei appointed Nasrallah and another Hizballah leader as his religious deputies in Lebanon, the khums revenues of Lebanese Shi’a who follow Khamenei have gone directly into Hizballah’s coffers. These Shi’a also give their zakat, the alms required of all Muslims able to pay, to Hizballah’s vast network of social welfare institutions. Much of this financial support comes from Lebanese Shi’a living abroad.” Deeb, L., Ibid.

Nature of the Military Campaign of Hizbullah

The charge that Hizbullah is a terrorist organization is laid by the Western imperialists.

Before the internal debate within Hizbullah, there seems little doubt that the organization did engage in “individual terror” – such as civilian hostage-taking – as well as a resistance and mass activity, against military targets such as the attack on the US Marine barracks and imperialist targets:

“In the United States, Hizballah is generally associated with the 1983 bombings of the US embassy, the Marine barracks and the French-led multinational force headquarters in Beirut. The second bombing led directly to the US military’s departure from Lebanon. The movement is also cited by the State Department in connection with the kidnappings of Westerners in Lebanon and the hostage crisis that led to the Iran-contra affair, the 1985 hijacking of a TWA flight and bombings of the Israeli embassy and cultural center in Buenos Aires in the early 1990s. These associations are the stated reasons for the presence of Hizbullah’s name on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations. In 2002, then Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage famously described Hizbullah as the ‘A-Team of terrorists,’ possessing a ‘global reach,’ and suggested that ‘maybe al-Qaeda is actually the B-Team.’ Hizbullah’s involvement in these attacks remains a matter of contention, however.” Deeb, L.; Ibid

It is true that Nasrullah denies individual hostage were taken by the Hizbullah itself:

“One person said there is the issue of the hostages. I told him that Hizbullah did not take any hostages. Even the groups that took hostages in 1982 and 1983, they took them to exchange them for hundreds of Lebanese prisoners from the Israeli prisons, especially in Atlit. Some witnesses are still alive. Speaker Nabih Birri was one of the people who ran the negotiations and was aware of this issue. So, if hostages were taken, they were taken to exchange them for Lebanese, and not for Syrian or Iranian interests. I have nothing to do with the hostages issues. So, I tell everybody now: Give us one example before this war, which you are accusing us of, to implicate us and prove that we have done anything against the national interest.” Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah; July 22, 2006 Al-Jazeera interviews Hizbullah chief; Interview by Al-Jazeera Beirut Bureau Chief Ghassan Bin-Jiddu

It is noteworthy that even Hariri – in 2001 – publicly defended Hizbullah as a resistance force:

“During a BBC interview in 2001, Hariri was asked by Tim Sebastian why he refused to hand over members of Hizbullah that were accused by America of being terrorists. He responded that Hizbullah were the ones protecting Lebanon against the Israeli occupation and called for implementation of passed United Nations resolutions against Israel. He was further accused of making the American coalition in the War on Terrorism worthless and asked if he was ready for the consequences of his refusal, reminding him that George W. Bush had said: ‘you are either with us or against us’. He replied that he had hoped that there would be no consequences, but would deal with them if they arrive. Hariri further said that he opposed the killing of all humans Israeli, Palestinian, Syrian or Lebanese and believed in dialogue as a solution. He further went on to say that Syria will have to stay in Lebanon for protection of Lebanon until they are no longer needed and Lebanon asks them to leave.”

However, there is no question that after the debate, there was a shift in Hizbullah’s activities, towards dropping of individual terrorism:

“Tufeili was replaced as secretary general of Hizbullah by the more flexible Sheikh Abbas al-Musawi, former head of Islamic Resistance. The Westerners who had been kidnapped in Lebanon began to be released in 1989. Closing one chapter of Shiite Islam in Lebanon was a necessary prelude to the new turn Hezbollah was about to make” Harik, J.P., Ibid., p. 59.

Alliance Marxist-Leninist has long followed the Leninist line of rejection of individual terrorism as counter-productive and objectively anti-working class (See: Marxist-Leninists argue that the turn towards a mass, military guerrilla resistance, reflects an objectively more progressive, and realistic structure. This is exactly what happened, as Hizbullah targeted itself against the Israeli military incursions, invasions, and attacks:

“Hizballah’s military activity has generally been committed to the goal of ending the Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon. Since the May 2000 Israeli withdrawal, they have largely operated within tacit, but mutually understood ‘rules of the game’ for ongoing, low-level border skirmishes with Israel that avoid civilian casualties. In addition, Hizballah has grown and changed significantly since its inception, and has developed into both a legitimate Lebanese political party and an umbrella organization for myriad social welfare institutions.” Deeb, L., Ibid.

Hizbullah increasingly eschewed the ‘martyr’ approach:

“Of the hundreds of military operations undertaken by the group during the Israeli invasion and occupation of Lebanon, only 12 involved the intentional death of a Hizballah fighter. At least half of the ‘suicide attacks’ against Israeli occupying forces in Lebanon were carried out by members of secular and leftist parties.” Deeb, L., Ibid.

In the eyes of President of Israel Yitzak Rabin (1922–1995), the Hizbullah were reacting to Israeli aggression:

“In 1992, Hizbullah sent shells into Israeli village in the Galilee panhandle ... In November of that year, Rabin conceded that Hizbullah had not fired on them without provocation from the Israeli army. The rocket attacks, he noted, had never been directed at Israeli population centers ‘as targets in themselves’. Instead he said they were launched in response to Israeli operations against Hizbullah in South Lebanon. The reporter called this a “startling departure from the Israeli line”. Harik, J.P., Ibid., p. 165.

Even Israeli General Shlomo Gazit, former Commander of Military Intelligence, agreed, having this to say:

“During the period that led up to the 1992 flare-up, Israel, not Hizbullah, had broken the tacit rules of engagement established between the forces. He noted that these rules only permitted the targeting of military objectives within the ‘Security Zone’. We need to say it again and again,” the general observed.

“Hizbullah did observe the ‘rules of the game’ for a long period. They refrained from shelling Israeli territory and from infiltration. They limited their operations to the ‘Security Zone’. It was our retaliation for their skilful strikes at our soldiers inside the zone that made them escalate the fighting. We first bombed and shelled many targets in Lebanon, including some far to the North. Only then did Hizbullah retaliate by shelling some Israeli locations – with no causalities.” Cited Harik, J.P., Ibid., p. 167.

No doubt it was and is very useful for the USA and Israel to insist on the label ‘terrorist’ instead of ‘resistance national liberationists’ – despite the fact that the Israelis have understood the need to negotiate with Hizbullah in the recent past:

A third element in the US insistence on labeling Hizballah a terrorist group is related to the notion that Hizballah’s raison d’etre is the destruction of Israel, or “occupied Palestine,” as per the party’s rhetoric. This perspective is supported by the 1985 Open Letter, which includes statements such as, “Israel’s final departure from Lebanon is a prelude to its final obliteration from existence and the liberation of venerable Jerusalem from the talons of occupation” ... Hizballah’s founding document also says: “We recognize no treaty with [Israel], no ceasefire and no peace agreements, whether separate or consolidated.” This language was drafted at the time when the Israeli invasion of Lebanon had just given rise to the Hizballah militia. Augustus R. Norton, author of several books and articles on Hizballah, notes that, “While Hizballah’s enmity for Israel is not to be dismissed, the simple fact is that it has been tacitly negotiating with Israel for years.” Hizballah’s indirect talks with Israel in 1996 and 2004 and their stated willingness to arrange a prisoner exchange today all indicate realism on the part of party leadership. Deeb, L., Ibid.

The War with Israel from 1982 to 2006

The Hizbullah resistance to Israeli aggression has been most effective in the past:

“In 1985, Israel withdrew from most of Lebanon, but continued to occupy the southern zone of the country, controlling approximately ten percent of Lebanon using both Israeli soldiers and a proxy Lebanese militia, the Southern Lebanese Army (SLA). Hizballah’s Islamic Resistance took the lead.” Deeb, L., Hizballah: A Primer; Deeb, L., Ibid.,

“The occupation of south Lebanon was costly for Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak made withdrawal a campaign promise in 1999, and later announced that it would take place by July 2000. A month and a half before this deadline... Barak ordered a chaotic withdrawal from Lebanon, taking many by surprise. At 3 am on May 24, 2000, the last “Israeli soldier stepped off Lebanese soil“. Hizballah maintained order in the border region.” Deeb, L., Ibid.

However, the withdrawal of Israel still did not include the water rich areas of the Shebaa Farms, discussed above:

“Despite withdrawal, a territorial dispute continues over a 15-square mile border region called the Shebaa Farms that remains under Israeli occupation. Lebanon and Syria assert that the mountainside is Lebanese land, while Israel and the UN have declared it part of the Golan Heights and, therefore, Syrian territory (though occupied by Israel). Since 2000, Lebanon has also been awaiting the delivery from Israel of the map for the locations of over 300,000 landmines the Israeli army planted in south Lebanon. Unstated ‘rules of the game,’ building on an agreement not to target civilians written after the Qana attack in 1996, have governed the Israeli-Lebanese border dispute since 2000. Hizballah attacks on Israeli army posts in the occupied Shebaa Farms, for example, would be answered by limited Israeli shelling of Hizballah outposts and some booms over Lebanon.” Deeb, L., Ibid.

As noted above border violations by Israel are legion:

“UN observer reports of the numbers of border violations find that Israel has violated the Blue Line between the countries ten times more frequently than Hizballah has. Israeli forces have kidnapped Lebanese shepherds and fishermen. Hizballah abducted an Israeli businessman in Lebanon in October 2000, claiming that he was a spy. In January 2004, through German mediators, Hizballah and Israel concluded a deal whereby Israel released hundreds of Lebanese and Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the businessman and the bodies of three Israeli soldiers. At the last minute, Israeli officials defied the Supreme Court’s ruling and refused to hand over the last three Lebanese prisoners, including the longest-held detainee, Samir al-Qantar, who has been in jail for 27 years for killing three Israelis after infiltrating the border. At that time, Hizballah vowed to open new negotiations at some point in the future.” Deeb, L., Ibid.

Current Status vis-á-vis Iran and Syria

No doubt funding from Iran continues, but a “Lebanese” identity to Hizbullah is ever more dominant:

“Hizballah officially follows Khamenei as the party’s marja’, and has maintained a warm relationship with Iran dating to the 1980s, when Iran helped to train and arm the militia. Hizballah consults with Iranian leaders, and receives an indeterminate amount of economic aid. Iran has also continued military aid to the Islamic Resistance, including some of the rockets in the militia’s arsenal ... But ... Iranian efforts to infuse the Lebanese Shi’a with a pan-Shi’i identity centered on Iran have run up against the Arab identity and increasing Lebanese nationalism of Hizballah itself.” Deeb, L., Ibid.

A similar distance from Syrian positions is clear:

“Syria, often viewed as so close to Hizballah that the party’s militia is dubbed Syria’s ‘Lebanese card’ in its efforts to regain the Golan Heights from Israel. While the party keeps good relations with the Syrian government, Syria does not control or dictate Hizballah decisions or actions. Party decisions are made independently, in accordance with Hizballah’s view of Lebanon’s interests and the party’s own interests within Lebanese politics. After the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri in February 2005, and the subsequent Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon, Hizballah’s position was often inaccurately described as ‘pro-Syrian.’ In fact, the party’s rhetoric was carefully chosen not to oppose Syrian withdrawal, but to recast it as a withdrawal that would not sever all ties with Lebanon, and that would take place under an umbrella of ‘gratitude.’” Deeb, L., Ibid.

Objective observers conclude that:

“There is no doubt that Hizballah is a nationalist party. Its view of nationalism differs from that of many Lebanese, especially from the Phoenician-origins nationalism espoused by the Maronite Christian right, and from the neo-liberal, US-backed nationalism of Hariri’s party. Hizballah offers a nationalism that views Lebanon as an Arab state that cannot distance itself from causes like the Palestine question. Its political ideology maintains an Islamic outlook. The 1985 Open Letter notes the party’s desire to establish an Islamic state, but only through the will of the people. ‘We don’t want Islam to reign in Lebanon by force,’ the letter reads. The party’s decision to participate in elections in 1992 underscored its commitment to working through the existing structure of the Lebanese state, and also shifted the party’s focus from a pan-Islamic resistance to Israel toward internal Lebanese politics. Furthermore, since 1992, Hizballah leaders have frequently acknowledged the contingencies of Lebanon’s multi-confessional society and the importance of sectarian coexistence and pluralism within the country. It should also be noted that many of Hizballah’s constituents do not want to live in an Islamic state; rather, they want the party to represent their interests within a pluralist Lebanon. ” Deeb, L., Ibid.

Nasrallah maintains their independence repeatedly, up to very recently:

[Bin-Jiddu] But Your Eminence, through your statement now you seem to be accusing the other party of having prepared for this plan, and that it might have used the capture of the two soldiers as a pretext. But some say the opposite. The statement of the 14 March forces was clear. Political statements very clearly stated that what happened was part of a Syrian-Iranian scenario. This way, you have returned the country to the time before 14 March. This serves the nuclear programme of Iran, which is now waging a conflict with the United States at this point. Syria wants to restore its influence. You have thus turned the table upside down.

[Nasrallah] This is a good point to discuss. This is a repeated tone in Lebanon. Whenever something happens, they talk about the Iranian-Syrian dimension. Let me start directly with the capture of the two soldiers. True, I had not informed the Lebanese Government, but neither had I informed my closest allies. Syria and Iran had not been informed. No Syrian or Iranian person had had any prior information. They had not been informed, and I had not consulted anyone of them. We are a resistance group operating on Lebanese soil. We have prisoners in Israeli prisons. It is our natural right to restore them. There is a major government statement that stresses this right, according to which we acted. These are the limits of the subject. Then we began to hear some analysis. Some say Syria told them [Hizbullah] to do so. This is ridiculous and shameful to say. They say Iran told us to do this. Why does Syria want Hizbullah to carry out this operation according to some analyses repeated by some politicians? This is in order to postpone or close the file of the international tribunal. This is ridiculous. Why ridiculous? Let me tell you why. If the international community is preoccupied with the Lebanon war now, the war will come to an end in one, two, three, or four weeks. July will end, followed by August and September, then the international tribunal issue will be revived. Does anybody believe that a confrontation of this kind will cancel the international tribunal decision if there is an international will to establish an international tribunal? This analysis involves too much simplification and disregard for people’s minds. Let me tell you the objective of this. The objective is to empty the resistance in Lebanon of its national, moral, and humanitarian content and to present it as a party or group of Syrian and Iranian tools that work for Syrian-Iranian interests and disregard or bypass the Lebanese interests, if not at the expense of the Lebanese interests. Regarding the Iranian issue, if a war takes place in Lebanon, a war will come to an end in one, two, or three months. How long would a war take? A war will eventually come to an end. What will this change in the Iranian nuclear file? What will it change? On the contrary I tell you that if there is a relationship with the Iranian nuclear file, the current war on Lebanon is not in the interest of the Iranian nuclear file. The Americans and Israelis have always taken into account that if a confrontation takes place with Iran, Hizbullah might interfere in Iran’s interest. If Hizbullah is hit now, what does this mean? This means that Iran is weakened in its nuclear file, not strengthened. How do those people read politics?

What is happening now, on our part, is an act of defence that has nothing to do with the international tribunal or with undermining the international tribunal. This is the silliest argument and I hope they would not repeat it. On 10 May, we took to the streets to say no to contractual employment [in the civil service], no to starving people, no to denying the acquired rights, no to submission to the International Monetary Fund conditions. We were told then that we want to sabotage the country and torpedo the international tribunal. Today, we captured prisoners to end the prisoners file. A war was imposed on us and we were told that we are starting a war to torpedo the international tribunal. It is shameful to say this. This issue has nothing to do with Syria or Iran.

I want to add something else. Hizbullah has always given priority to the Lebanese national interest over any other interest. On the table of [national] dialogue, I argued with them and I told them that you have known us for 23 years or 24 years. I was ready to tell them, some of them and not all of them, what battles they fought in the interest of foreign parties and not in the interest of Lebanon. I asked them to bring anything against Hizbullah and say if it did anything in Lebanon or fought any war in Lebanon that was in the interest of another party, and not the interest of Lebanon. They could not give me a single example.”

Are we that crazy, that I and my brothers want to sacrifice our souls, our families, our honourable masses, and our dear ones in order to have Syria return to Lebanon, or to postpone the international tribunal, or for the sake of the Iranian nuclear file. Can you imagine such statements! This is an insult. It is an insult to our patriotism and commitment. Yes, we are friends of Syria and Iran, but for 24 years we benefited from our friendship with Syria and Iran for the sake of Lebanon. There are others who benefited from their friendship with Syria for their own seats in power, houses, wealth, and bank accounts. But, for me, tell me where my bank accounts are? Tell me where is the palace that I built as a result of my connections to the Syrian officials in Lebanon? Never! Hizbullah has never taken advantage of these friendships except for the benefit of Lebanon. Today, Hizbullah is not fighting for the sake of Syria or the sake of Iran. It is fighting for the sake of Lebanon. Yes, the result of this battle in Lebanon will be seen in Palestine. If it ends in victory, it will be victory there too; and if, God forbid, it ends in defeat, then the Palestinian brothers will face difficult and tragic conditions. But, God willing, there will only be victory. Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah; July 22, 2006 Al-Jazeera interviews Hizbullah chief; Interview by Al-Jazeera Beirut Bureau Chief Ghassan Bin-Jiddu

Hizbullah Makes Strenuous Attempts to Adopt a Non-Sectarian Position

The efforts of Hizbullah to be seen as non-sectarian extend to very visible alliances, with ex-enemies – as discussed above, with Michel Aoun for instance:

[Bin-Jiddu] Your Eminence, let’s put the other parties aside. You have a memorandum of understanding with General Aoun. Has what is currently taking place shaken the pillars of the memorandum of understanding and your cooperation with the Free Patriotic Movement?

[Nasrallah] No, not at all. First, the memorandum of understanding talked clearly about first releasing the prisoners and liberating the rest of the [occupied] Lebanese territories, and afterward discussing a strategy for national defence. This is what we began to discuss. Hizbullah has neither taken advantage of Lebanon to liberate Palestine, nor worked towards restoring the seven villages, which are Lebanese territories. It carried out an operation to capture [Israeli soldiers], because the government’s policy statement stipulates the release of prisoners and the liberation of Lebanese territories. So, what we did is a national Lebanese action, even in the regional sense of the word. This [operation] was carried out within, not outside, the context of the memorandum of understanding signed between us and the Free Patriotic Movement.

I am following the statements made by Major General Aoun and other leaders in the movement. I believe they took a wise, balanced, national, and honourable position. Many political forces – I do not want to name them – adopted a similar position. I hope that you do not ask me to name them. If I name this or that party, it would then mean that the others did not adopt a similar position. I mentioned the Free Patriotic Movement because you asked me about it. Furthermore, the effort made by the Free Patriotic Movement – since your question is about the Free Patriotic Movement – in various areas is a big effort. We receive information about the impact of these good efforts on the displaced people. I do not think that the pillars of this [memorandum of] understanding were shaken. Things will become clearer in the future.”


[Bin-Jiddu] Your Eminence, if you are certain of your military capabilities, what then do you fear? Do you fear the internal or the external...

Non-denominational politics are stressed by Nasrallah:

[Nasrallah, interrupting] We only fear God Almighty. Secondly, I want to assure you that we do not fear the internal front. They are trying to play on the sectarian divisions. They know that playing on the sectarian divisions is dangerous. It is true that it threatens the resistance, but it also threatens the state project, the Cedar Revolution, and the great democratic model that George Bush is talking about. It is worth mentioning that democracy in Lebanon is older than the whole Bush family. It is dangerous to the country. If they want to play on the differences between Sunnis and Shi’is, Muslims and Christians, or Druze and Shi’is, it will be dangerous to the country. However, they will not succeed in this at this time. Today, the Americans are playing on the divisions between Sunnis and Shi’is in Iraq – the authority, the presence in power, the intimidation, and the acts of killing here and there. I hold America responsible for what is taking place in Iraq. I know what the Americans tell the Shi’is, the Sunnis, and the Kurds. But today they cannot incite people. Let’s take the Sunnis for example; are they going to incite them against us, the Shi’is? Why? What wrong did we do? Are the Shi’is in Lebanon US agents to tell them to do so? Are the Shi’is in Lebanon Israeli agents? Have the Shi’is in Lebanon abandoned the Palestinian cause? Have the Shi’is, who have seen Palestinian people being killed in Gaza, cooperated with the Israelis? You cannot believe such things. Interview with Hizbullah Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah; July 22, 2006 Al-Jazeera interviews Hizbullah chief; Interview by Al-Jazeera Beirut Bureau Chief Ghassan Bin-Jiddu

The Current State of War in Lebanon

It is clear that the Israeli army is receiving an education in guerilla warfare, although the short term victory in this war is far from clear:

“A column of Israeli armour, which crept into the Lebanese Christian town of Marjayoun – largely populated by the Lebanese collaborators of Israel’s occupation from 1978 to 2000 – turned north yesterday towards Khiam, a village already largely depopulated, to find that the Hizbollah guerrillas there refused to surrender. Israel’s frustration – and its sense of loss since 15 of its soldiers were killed in just the fraction of the south Lebanese border area which it ‘controls’ over the past 24 hours – was evident in a potentially criminal document which it dropped over Beirut yesterday. Signed ‘the State of Israel’ – which at least makes its origins clear – the tracts announced that ‘the Israeli Defence Forces intend to expand their operations in Beirut’ ... On Tuesday evening, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, the Hizbollah chairman, had boasted of the 350 missiles he claimed his members had fired on Israel over the previous 48 hours, and urged Israeli Arabs to leave Haifa. And it should be said that the Israeli army are not winning their war in southern Lebanon. Within two kilometres of their own border, they lost their 15 soldiers on Wednesday. Many others were wounded. The furthest the Israelis could reach in an armoured column yesterday was the edge of Khiam, the site of their own notorious torture prison from 1978 to 2000. It is still only two miles from the border and they are fighting a far more determined and disciplined enemy than in 1982, when their ‘incursion’ took them as far as Beirut. The Israelis have crossed the same border to find that their enemies, Hizbollah, are prepared to die in battle – indeed, seek to die in battle – unlike the secular PLO over whom they proclaimed an easy victory in 1982. Hizbollah is a different enemy, one which turns the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert’s, claims that he is pursuing the same ‘war on terror’ as George Bush into dust. The Hizbollah is officered by men who spent 18 years fighting Israeli occupiers, and who learned the hard way that improved weaponry and iron discipline are more important than nationalist rhetoric. Since the Israeli retreat in 2000, they have had six years to bury their arms caches underground amid extraordinary secrecy. Yesterday’s air-dropped Israeli document ordered Shia Muslims in Beirut’s Hay al-Selloum, Bourj al-Barajneh and Shiyah districts to abandon their homes ‘immediately’. In other words, the Israeli army wishes to ‘cleanse’ every civilian out of the 12 square miles between Beirut airport and the old Christian civil war frontline at Galerie Semaan. This malicious document ends with a sinister threat – which breaks all the relevant rules of the Geneva Conventions – that ‘each expansion of Hizbollah terrorist operations will lead to a harsh and powerful response and its painful response will not be confined to Hassan’s gang of criminals’.” Robert Fisk: Hizbollah’s iron discipline is match for military machine, Published: 11 August 2006

This guerilla war certainly proves that Hizbullah has its place within the people:
“[Bin-Jiddu] Your Eminence, it is obvious that there is a real popular support in the areas where members of the resistance and Hizbullah are present. Now, the people who expressed their genuine support for the resistance are displaced and exhausted, and there is destruction as well. Honestly, do you still have faith in this popular support? Do not you think that you might win militarily and lose popularly, even among your own sect, not among other parties?

[Nasrallah] There is strong support for the resistance; there is readiness to remain steadfast and make sacrifices ... We have information about the situation on the ground, and we are in constant contact with our people in the villages and cities ... I want to repeat what I said days ago that we have honourable people – I am talking about the Lebanese people in general, not only the Shi’is. The Lebanese people are honourable, dear, and great; I do not flatter when I say that. You can go to all Lebanese areas where there are Christians, Sunnis, and Druze to see how the rest of the Lebanese people deal with the displaced people ...

On the national level, we have a large political force. Lebanon is small, but relatively speaking, I can claim that Hizbullah is the biggest political party in Lebanon. In military terms, and no one can argue about this issue, it is the resistance today. In terms of popular presence, I can claim that Hizbullah is the biggest popular current in Lebanon. But, tell us when did we take advantage of this political, military, mass, and popular force in Lebanon for our own interest, for our own party interest, or for the interest of our sect, considering the sectarian structure of the country? Never! We have always offered concessions for the national interest.

I do not have to defend myself here as Hizbullah or the resistance masses with regards the national interest. I say that we are fighting the war of national interest because Israel wants to humiliate Lebanon, subjugate Lebanon, and control Lebanon. If it succeeds in this war, then any future government in Lebanon should have the approval of Olmert and the Israeli Mosad. Not only the US ambassador, the French ambassador, or the British ambassador, but we will have a fourth one to endorse the elections law, the government, the new president; and that is Mr Olmert. Interview with Hizbullah Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah; July 22, 2006 Al-Jazeera interviews Hizbullah chief; Interview by Al-Jazeera Beirut Bureau Chief Ghassan Bin-Jiddu, Ibid.


It appears the Lebanese people have understood that Hizbullah represents a freedom force fighting for Lebanese nationhood.

At the time of the forced withdrawal of Israel from most of Lebanese territory, in rejecting the demands that Hizbullah hold their fire, Nasrallah showed he had studied Vietcong Liberation:

“Nasrallah weighed in ... by drawing a parallel between the behaviour of the Lebanese resistance and that of the Vietcong. He pointed out that the operations Vietcong guerillas had been undertaking against American forces in Vietnam had not ceased while the Paris negotiations between North Vietnamese and American representative were taking place.” Harik, J.P., Ibid., p. 135.

We believe this study of national liberation movements will not be in vain.

Long Live the Lebanese People!

Garbis Altinoglu Internet ArchiveMIA Index

Last updated on 26 May 2021