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How Did Hezbollah Become So Powerful?

How did Hezbollah go from a small militia to the most powerful force in Lebanon? Understanding Hezbollah’s rise is crucial to understanding why Lebanon is in such a mess today.

Hezbollah funeral in Lebanon
Funeral ceremonies Organized by Hezbollah of One of his terrorists who was killed in the Syria war, 2015 (Shutterstock

Hezbollah’s Early Days: Radical Islamization

In the 1980s, Lebanon was in chaos.

The country was torn apart by a civil war that began in 1975, splitting people along religious lines. The Civil War in Lebanon had many reasons but the main ones were the consolidation of Palestinian terror groups in Southern Lebanon (they were kicked out of Jordan and were basing themselves in Lebanon), and war between radical Islamists and Christians. Israel took the side of Christians in this war and supported them.

Out of this war, Hezbollah was born in 1982, initially presenting itself as a resistance group against Israel. However, the real architects of Hezbollah were the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), who saw Lebanon as a fertile ground to spread their influence and ideology. Iran's goal was straightforward: create a Shia stronghold from Tehran to the Mediterranean. Lebanon, with its significant Shia population and border with Israel, was the perfect target.

Nasrallah with Ali Khamenei and Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani.
Nasrallah with Ali Khamenei and Qods Force commander Qassem Soleimani. (Wikimedia)

From there on, The IRGC provided Hezbollah with training, funding, and ideological indoctrination, transforming a group of disenchanted Lebanese Shia youths into a well-organized militia - which is named today the most powerful non-state actor. Iran’s aim was to create a proxy capable of attacking Israel and spreading its revolutionary ideals without getting their 'hands dirty', and Hezbollah was the perfect candidate. Today by the way, we see that this is Iran's favorite strategy - using proxies to attack Israel. Hezbollah just might be the most powerful project of the Islamic Regime in Iran.

Nasrallah: Iran’s Loyal Puppet

Hassan Nasrallah took over as Hezbollah’s leader in 1992, following the assassination of Abbas al-Musawi. Nasrallah’s leadership turned Hezbollah into a powerful military and political force in Lebanon. His allegiance to Iran is absolute; he has publicly pledged loyalty to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

A Russian-made anti-tank missile launcher 9K111 Fagot.
August 14, 2006. A Russian-made anti-tank missile launcher 9K111 Fagot captured by IDF forces in southern Lebanon belonging to Hezbollah. Pictured: (Lower right) Russian serial numbers on a weapon discovered belonging to Hezbollah. (Wikimedia)

Nasrallah’s Hezbollah is more than a Lebanese political party; it’s an extension of Iranian power. Under his leadership, Hezbollah has amassed an arsenal of rockets and missiles, with reports of it having over 150,000 missiles, many capable of striking deep into Israeli territory. These weapons, mainly supplied by Iran, China and Russia, make Hezbollah a major threat to regional stability. It's not surprising to see Iran, China and Russia supporting Hezbollah against Israel, because they see Israel as an outpost of "Westernism", they see Israel's alliance with the United States as bad for their influence in the region. And what does he want to do with these weapons? Well he doesn't hide it. He has repeatedly declared his commitment to Israel’s destruction, saying in a 2002 interview, “If they (Jews) all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide.”

Arrival of fuel purchased from Iran to Lebanon
Arrival of fuel purchased from Iran to Hezbollah (Wikimedia)

Iran provides the bulk of Hezbollah’s funding, estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars annually. Hezbollah's revenue was estimated in 2013 at approximately 800 million to 1 billion dollars per year. The IRGC’s Quds Force, specifically designed to carry out foreign operations, has been instrumental in shaping Hezbollah’s military capabilities. This alliance has enabled Hezbollah to operate with a level of sophistication and efficiency that far surpasses typical militias - posing a much bigger threat to Israel than Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

Hezbollah’s Politics in Lebanon

Hezbollah’s power isn’t just about its military. They placed themselves deep in Lebanese politics, securing key positions in the government. This political power has allowed Hezbollah to manipulate the Lebanese state from within, ensuring its survival and dominance. The 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, widely blamed on Hezbollah, was a turning point. The murder sparked massive protests and led to the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon. Despite the criticism from the Lebanese public, Hezbollah managed to come out stronger. By 2008, Hezbollah had enough power to veto decisions in the Lebanese cabinet, effectively becoming a kingmaker in Lebanese politics. But not for long.

Hezbollah’s involvement in Lebanon’s economy has been just as destructive. In a dictatorial move, Hezbollah has been exploiting Lebanon's economy to build its own economy. Nasrallah runs a vast network of illegal businesses, including drug trafficking and smuggling, to finance its operations. The Beirut port, effectively under Hezbollah’s control, has become a hub for these illicit activities, stealing from the people, depriving the state of crucial revenue and contributing to Lebanon’s economic collapse that led to massive inflation, electricity outages and increased poverty. Hezbollah is acting as another entity inside Lebanon, exploiting Lebanon for its own uses, Hezbollah has also its own army next to the Lebanese army - with more conflicting interests than mutual ones, but the Lebanese army is weaker than Hezbollah and can't stand up to it.

Hezbollah’s flag is a testament to its militant and ideological roots. The yellow banner features an upraised fist clutching an assault rifle, symbolizing armed struggle. The text above the rifle reads “Hezbollah” in Arabic, while the text below it states, “The Islamic Resistance in Lebanon.” The logo of the Hezbollah flag is inspired by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iran.

Hezbollah flags in Lebanon
Hezbollah's flags carried on the shoulders of terrorists during a military salute for the funeral of martyr (Shutterstock)

The Beirut Port Explosion: A Tragic Consequence

The explosion at the Beirut port on August 4, 2020, was a horrific reminder of Hezbollah’s destructive influence. The blast, caused by the detonation of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored recklessly for years, killed over 200 people, injured thousands, and left hundreds of thousands homeless. This disaster was the result of years of negligence and corruption, much of it tied to Hezbollah’s control over the port.

The investigation into the explosion has been obstructed at every turn, with Hezbollah reportedly intimidating officials to prevent the truth from coming out. This tragic event highlights the urgent need for accountability and reform in Lebanon, yet Hezbollah’s grip on the country makes such change nearly impossible. It pretends to be Lebanon’s protector, but its actions show it is destroying the country from within, serving Iran’s interests over the Lebanese people.

Hezbollah tunnel along the border with Israel, discovered by the IDF (Israel Defense Forces)
Hezbollah tunnel along the border with Israel, discovered by the IDF (Israel Defense Forces)

Lebanese People Rising Up

Despite the dark times, there is hope. The Lebanese people have shown incredible resilience and a strong desire for change. The October 2019 protests, where people from all backgrounds demanded an end to corruption and sectarianism, were a powerful sign that change is possible. The world must support these brave individuals.

In recent conflicts between Hezbollah and Israel - we witnessed a new move by Lebanese villagers living in Southern Lebanon. They were seen kicking Hezbollah militants out of their villages, Church bells calling locals to come to rise up against Hezbollah. They have had enough of Hezbollah, but is it too late?

The international community, especially those who value freedom and democracy, must recognize Hezbollah for what it is: a terrorist organization that has hijacked a nation. Hezbollah is recognized as a terrorist organization by several countries including the Arab League and the Gulf countries. Sanctions against Iran and Hezbollah need to be intensified, and support should be given to strengthen Lebanon’s legitimate institutions. This isn’t just about Lebanon; it’s about countering Iran’s influence in the Middle East.

Conclusion: Stand Up for Lebanon

Lebanon stands at a crossroads. It can either fall deeper under Hezbollah’s control or rise up and reclaim its sovereignty. Hezbollah is a cancer that must be removed for Lebanon to heal and prosper. The world must not look away. It’s time to stand against Hezbollah and its Iranian masters for the sake of Lebanon and peace in the Middle East.

Lebanon’s story isn’t over. With unity, courage, and international support, the Lebanese people can overcome Hezbollah’s stranglehold and build a future based on freedom, justice, and prosperity. Isaiah 40:31 says, “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Lebanon can rise again. The time for action is now.


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