What is Hezbollah and what does it want?

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25 October
12:28
October
2016

Hezbollah’s story began in 1950s Iran, when a movement grew from youth revolting against the establishment and the Shah. Over time that movement was expelled and its members spread all over the world, and particularly to Lebanon, which was then a melting pot of revolutionary ideas. Hezbollah emerged from that and so did the ideology of the Iranian revolution, as exiles returned to Iran.

So Hezbollah is a Lebanese movement but it’s also regional, financed and inspired by Iran. It’s a revolutionary organisation based on radical Islamic ideas, which is also a religious Shia foundation, with social institutions, schools and hospitals. In Lebanon the state is very weak, so it’s a parallel establishment with its own income, institutions and support.

Hezbollah’s goals are regionally aligned with those of the Iranian leadership: its training of preachers in Iraq, interventions in Syria in favour of Assad, and in Yemen. Locally, it keeps its own constituency mostly through a narrative of offering protection against the Israeli enemy. It’s an argument maintained by fiery speeches from Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader. But it’s also understandable – when Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006, after all, neither the state nor the international community could do anything about it.

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