Why is Hezbollah popular? Mark Chamoun takes a close look at the Lebanese-based Shi’a militant party that has seen continuous promotion not only from its Iranian backer but also as a result of its fighting in the Syrian civil war.
The popularity of Hezbollah is on the rise. The militant group that was initially created in 1985 to fight against the Israeli occupation by bringing together various Shi’a militia’s, has grown in status in the region and has now become a crucial force in many present conflicts in the Middle East.
The Lebanese-based Shi’a militant party has seen continuous promotion not only from its Iranian backer but also as a result of its fighting in the Syrian civil war.
The group is a strong proponent of Al-Assad’s regime, and due to the sectarian nature of the conflict has been a defender of sorts of the Shi’a minority in the country. In fact, Hezbollah has been the guardian of the Shiites in all the Middle East with many of its funding coming from Shiite Iran, which is the regional Shi’a power; vying in a power struggle with the Sunni Saudi Arabia. This complicated sectarian arrangement has manifested itself in Hezbollah’s increasing involvement in many conflicts in the region.
Hezbollah’s identity as a Shi’a militia group has seen it involved in armed struggles currently taking place not only in the Syrian civil war but also in the ongoing conflict in Iraq against the Islamic State. Both conflicts stemming out of a need to bolster Shiite influence in the region, with the Islamic State attempting to create a Sunni regime and Syrian rebels fighting against the already Shi’a ruled Syria.
Why is Hezbollah popular?
Most of Hezbollah’s popularity indeed stems with its involvement in pro- Shi’a activities in the region. But the militant group is also popular in its native Lebanon for the social programs it has created in the country.
Hezbollah runs its own hospitals, schools, and other social services in Lebanon; with many programs not even being provided by the current Lebanese government. The group’s involvement in these social programs has facilitated its identity as not only a radical militant organization but also a political party which advocates for its citizenry.
Whether Hezbollah has created such programs to help Lebanon’s population in an act of altruism is another question, however. The ability for Hezbollah to gain popularity in its own country is crucial for its backing throughout the Middle East. If more of Lebanon’s populace legitimize the organization by citing its social programs as an example of the positive effects of the group; Hezbollah has a bigger chance of gaining acceptance across the region. This will ultimately translate itself in Hezbollah’s increasing involvement in the guardianship of Shiite Muslims in the region; providing political and militaristic aid to current conflicts which see Shiite groups needing protection.
Hezbollah is on the rise in the region. Its involvement in Syria and Iraq has characterized the organization as one that does not confine itself to its native Lebanon but instead seeks to exert power over the wider Middle East.
With increased funding coming from Iran and other Shiite proponents, the group is indeed on the increase in the region. If Hezbollah continuous to involve itself in interregional conflict without any direct pushback from other powers, it may undeniably see itself at the forefront of authority in the area. In fact, with many of its dealings seeing the group siding with powerful countries, such as the ironic relationship between itself and America against the Sunni Islamic State in the current conflict in Iraq; Hezbollah sees itself in a unique but powerful position. But the organization is not in ultimate control.
If the military group seeks to invade Israel as its initial intention was, it will face great opposition from countries loyal to Israel. Its current involvement in Shiite centered conflicts only gives the organization the ability to interfere in activities directly related to its ideological base. If Hezbollah decides to invade Israel without significant backing from other countries in the region, it will ultimately fail. Hezbollah is not strong enough to take on a country such as Israel and its allies. If the organization oversteps its boundaries it will face ruin. Indeed ultimately, the organization is designated as a terrorist group by the United States. Any authority it may have in the region may quickly subside if the United States seeks to end its influence.
Hezbollah’s survival is dependent on its relationship with others in the region, therefore. Essentially, if Hezbollah continuous to act as it does in the region without stepping on any toes, it may indeed have a future in the Middle East. A future that may change the landscape of the region as a whole.