October 21, 2016


Is Hezbollah less dangerous to the United States? (Daniel L. Byman, October 18, 2016, Brookings)

In the over 30 years since its formation, Hezbollah has become more than a terrorist group. It has long provided education, health care, and other services to its Lebanese Shiite constituents, and over time it has become an important service provider to non-Shiite Lebanese, winning political points throughout the country. In the 1990s, the group entered politics, becoming a major bloc in the Lebanese parliament and part of a coalition government in Lebanon. Finally, its struggle against Israel was broadly popular, and the group's success in forcing Israel to leave Lebanon in 2000 won it admiration at home and abroad. Throughout all this time, Hezbollah remained close to its sponsors, Syria and especially Iran. [...]

Most of the Arab world is Sunni, and many governments are responding to popular concern for their coreligionists and their own hostility to Hezbollah's backer Iran, which presents itself as a champion of the region's Shiite Muslims. Hezbollah is particularly hated by the region's Sunni jihadists, whose forces have clashed repeatedly with Hezbollah in Syria and regularly threaten dire consequences against the group. The enmity is fully reciprocated. Nasrallah recently declared the jihadists a more difficult problem than even Israel. Rather than try to rebuild bridges to Sunni powers, Hezbollah has doubled down on its relationship with Iran, sending some of its fighters to train groups in Iraq and Yemen.

Posted by at October 21, 2016 9:44 AM