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Hezbollah: A Short History

With a new afterword by the author Augustus Richard Norton
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: STU - Student edition
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Most policymakers in the United States and Israel have it wrong: Hezbollah isn't a simple terrorist organization--nor is it likely to disappear any time soon. Following Israel's war against Hezbollah in the summer of 2006, the Shi'i group--a hybrid of militia, political party, and social services and public works provider--remains very popular in the Middle East. After Lebanon tottered close to disaster, Hezbollah and its allies gained renewed political power in Beirut. The most lucid, informed, and balanced analysis of the group yet written,Hezbollahis essential reading for anyone who wants to understand the Middle East. A new afterword brings readers up to date on Hezbollah's most recent actions.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3006-0
    Subjects: History, Anthropology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Prologue
    (pp. 1-8)

    It was an easy summer evening in August 2004. The Shici Muslim village lies about five miles southeast of Tyre, Lebanon’s southernmost city, and the border with Israel is eight miles due south. Al-Bazuriya boasts a few simple shops and a couple of hundred homes of stone or cinder block, and we are gathered on the large balcony of one of these homes. Grapes, begging for picking, hang overhead on a thick fabric of vines, shading a long table brimming with Lebanon’s famousmezze(appetizers)—tabbouleh, hummus, pickles in pastel shades, finger-shaped wrapped grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs,...

  4. Chapter 1 Origins and Prehistory of Hezbollah
    (pp. 9-26)

    The modern state of Lebanon won its independence from France in 1943. The defining compromise of Lebanese politics was themithaq al-watanior national pact, an unwritten understanding between the dominant political communities of the day—the Sunni Muslims and the Maronite Christians—that would provide the terms of reference for Lebanon’s independence. In the 1920s the French, exploiting their League of Nations mandates in Lebanon and Syria, carved out generous chunks of Syria to create a viable “Greater Lebanon,” thereby thwarting the Arab nationalist dream of an independent state in Damascus. For the Sunnis, the acceptance of an independent...

  5. Chapter 2 The Founding of Hezbollah
    (pp. 27-46)

    The late 1970s and early 1980s were a time of great foment, enthusiasm, and transition among the Shica of Lebanon. Amal, as noted in chapter 1, enjoyed a resurgence among the Shica of southern Lebanon, particularly following the disappearance of Sayyid Musa al-Sadr in Libya in August 1978 and the example set by the Shica-led Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1978–79. Originally an adjunct militia to the Movement of the Deprived, Amal expanded into a political reform movement as well, and its new leaders were not clerics but members of the lay middle class, typified by the lawyer Nabih...

  6. Chapter 3 Being a Shi`i Muslim in the Twenty-first Century
    (pp. 47-68)

    About 10 percent of all Muslims in the world are Shica. Both Shcia and the majority Sunni Muslims believe that the prophet Muhammad is the “Rasul,” the Messenger of Allah, chosen by God to transmit His Word, and both accord special, central reverence to his memory, deeds, and actions as the last and most important prophet.

    Although several doctrinal and legal issues separate the minority Shica from the Sunni majority, the most serious split is over the succession after the death of Prophet Muhammad, in 632 c. e. (10 a. h.). OnlycAli, the fourth and last of the four...

  7. Chapter 4 Resistance, Terrorism, and Violence in Lebanon
    (pp. 69-94)

    The 1980s was a decade of extraordinary violence and chaos in Lebanon, often remembered in the United States with indelible images of the ruins of the U.S. marine barracks obliterated by a suicide bomber on a Sunday morning in October 1983. The lives of 220 marines, 18 sailors, and 3 soldiers, in addition to the wife and four children of a Lebanese janitor, were snuffed out in the attack. Simultaneously 58 French paratroopers were killed by a second bomb-laden truck. The French, like the Americans, were participants in the Multinational Force (MNF) that had been dispatched to Beirut to bring...

  8. Chapter 5 Playing Politics
    (pp. 95-112)

    Lebanon has a curious electoral system that is intended to accommodate its mélange of confessional spirits, diverse regional interests, and personal rivalries. Voters have gone to the polls every four years (except for the civil war years of 1975 to 1990) to vote for members of parliament. As a result of the Ta’if accord of 1989, which marked the end of the civil war, seats are divided equally between Muslim and Christians, in contrast to the prior distribution that favored Christians by a 6 to 5 ratio. The 128 parliamentary seats are subdivided along confessional lines: 27 seats each for...

  9. Chapter 6 From Celebration to War
    (pp. 113-144)

    The exuberant nationwide Lebanese celebration of Israel’s 2000 withdrawal began to run out of steam within a couple of years, particularly outside the formerly occupied region. People still made the trek to the large village of al-Khiam, a couple of miles north of the Israeli town of Metulla, where they visited the infamous Israeli prison from the period of the occupation. The prison, formerly a French military barracks built during the League of Nations mandate in pre-independence Syria and Lebanon (1920–43), had been a thoroughly miserable place to be jailed. Until Israel bombed it during the summer of 2006,...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 145-160)

    The Islamic month of Ramadan, a time of daily fasting and reflection on the meaning of the Quran and the mercy of Allah, began in late September 2006 and concluded a month later with the traditional three-day feast. Throughout the Islamic world, families and friends gathered for theiftar, the breaking of the fast, at dusk. Following the meal it is customary for guests and hosts to chat about religion and the issues of the day. In many homes these discussions turn into long debates. This was certainly the case in Cairo, where the author lived during the fall of...

  11. Afterword to the Paperback Edition
    (pp. 161-172)

    The tent city that Hezbollah and its Muslim and Christian allies erected in downtown Beirut in early December 2006 signaled the opposition’s resolve to topple the government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora. Nightly rallies featured a who’s who of opposition notables. Initially, exuberant villagers enjoyed the novelty of riding free buses to rallies in upscale central Beirut, where some would stay for days at a time. One month later, and just two days before an international donors’ conference was to open in Paris, Hezbollah increased its pressure on the Siniora government by leading widespread demonstrations to protest the government’s failure...

  12. Glossary
    (pp. 173-174)
  13. Additional Reading
    (pp. 175-180)
  14. Sources Cited
    (pp. 181-184)
  15. Index
    (pp. 185-196)
  16. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 197-199)