Monday, August 14, 2006
Hezbollah was formed to combat the Israeli occupation following the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and opposes the Israeli state. It was officially founded on the 16th of February, 1985 when Sheik Ibrahim al-Amin declared the group's manifesto. It follows a distinct version of Islamic Shia ideology developed by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Hezbollah is one of the two main organizations representing the Shia community, Lebanon's largest religious bloc, but the only militant one. It is also a recognised political party in Lebanon, where it participates in government. Hezbollah's civilian wing participates in the Parliament of Lebanon, taking just over 10% of the seats (14 out of 128) and the bloc it forms with others, the Resistance and Development Bloc, 27.3% (see Lebanese general election, 2005). Hezbollah organises an extensive social development programme. This civilian wing runs hospitals, news services, and educational facilities. Its Reconstruction Campaign ('Jihad al-Bina') is responsible for numerous economic and infrastructure development projects in Lebanon.
Russia, the European Union, China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Mexico, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia among others do not consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization. The United States, Canada, and Israel consider Hezbollah a full terrorist organization while the Australians and Dutch only view Hezbollah's external Security Organization as a terrorist Group. 
Main article: History of Hezbollah
Hezbollah was formed to combat the Israeli occupation following the 1982 invasion of Lebanon. Initially, it aimed to transform Lebanon into an Islamic republic, though it has since abandoned this goal in favor of a more inclusive platform. It was officially founded on February 16, 1985 when Sheik Ibrahim al-Amin declared the group's manifesto. The publication of the manifesto was timed to coincide with the anniversary of Ragheb Harb's death.
Scholars differ as to when Hezbollah came to be a distinct entity. Some organizations list the official formation of the group as early as 1982  whereas Diaz and Newman maintain that Hezbollah remained an amalgamation of various violent Shi’a extremists until as late as 1985. Regardless of when the name came into official use, a number of Shi’a groups were slowly assimilated into the organization, such as Islamic Jihad, Organization of the Oppressed on Earth and the Revolutionary Justice Organization. These designations are considered to be synonymous with Hezbollah by the US, Israel and Canada.
Hezbollah's strength was enhanced by the dispatching of one thousand to fifteen hundred members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and the financial backing of Iran. It became the main politico-military force among the Shi'a community in Lebanon and the main arm of what became known later as the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon. Hezbollah follows a Shiite Islamist ideology shared by the leader of the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini.
It was largely formed with the aid of the Ayatollah Khomeini's followers in the early eighties in order to spread Shia revolution. Hezbollah views Israel as a whole as "an illegal usurper entity, which is based on falsehood, massacres, and illusions," and follows a distinct version of Islamic Shi'a ideology developed by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of the Islamic Revolution in Iran.
Hezbollah's ideology is rooted in the Shi’a tradition of Islam, specifically in the concept of “Willayat Al-Faqih” put forth by Ayatollah Khomeini and other Islamic scholars in Iran. In an early August speech, Iranian Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezai, and former commander of the Revolutionary Guards said, "Iran is a model and example for Hizbullah. The Iranian faith, tactics and experience are being put to practice in Lebanon... Hizbullah looks to Iran for tactics and moral [support], and we are proud that our experience [serves] other Muslim countries."
In a 1999 interview, Nasrallah outlined the group’s three “minimal demand[s]: an [Israeli] withdrawal from South Lebanon and the Western Bqa’ Valley, a withdrawal from the Golan, and the return of the Palestinian refugees.” An additional objective is the freeing of prisoners held in Israeli jails, some of whom have been imprisoned for eighteen years.
Position on Israel
In its public rhetoric, Hezbollah supports the destruction of the state of Israel. Secretary-General Nasrallah’s official stance is that “Israel is an illegal usurper entity, which is based on falsehood, massacres, and illusions, and there is no chance for its survival.” The Age quotes him as saying: "There is no solution to the conflict in this region except with the disappearance of Israel."
Despite the strident rhetoric, in recent interviews Nasrallah has answered questions concerning the establishment of a Palestinian state established alongside an Israeli state in a way which suggested that the organization no longer has the intent to destroy the state of Israel. . Hezbollah’s present leadership disclaims any interest in contesting Israel’s right to exist outside of disputed territories. In a 2003 interview, Nasrallah stated that "at the end of the road no one can go to war on behalf of the Palestinians, even if that one is not in agreement with what the Palestinians agreed on." "Of course, it would bother us that Jerusalem goes to Israel... [but] let it happen. I would not say O.K. I would say nothing."
In 2004, when asked whether he was prepared to live with a two-state settlement between Israel and Palestine, Nasrallah said he would not sabotage what is a Palestinian matter. He also clarified that outside of Lebanon, Hezbollah will act only in a defensive manner towards Israeli forces, and that Hezbollah's missiles were acquired to deter attacks on Lebanon.
Nasrallah has a history of making anti-Semitic statements (most infamously “if they [Jews] all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide”). Hezbollah's website, however, marks a distinction between "Zionist ideology" and Judaism. It sees the rejection of Zionism as an attitude hold across "races, religions, and nationalities". It likens Zionism to "the concept of creating 'Israel' by the use of force and violence, by stealing the Arabs’ lands and killing Palestinians". "[O]pposing the Zionists ideology is not opposing setting a home for Jews".
In keeping with Lebanon’s generally secular and egalitarian culture, Hezbollah recognizes and promotes women’s rights (in the mold of the Western liberal tradition) somewhat more strongly than do other groups associated with Islamic jihad, or for that matter than does Iran, Hezbollah’s self-proclaimed “model and example” (see Women in Muslim societies).
One member of the Hezbollah Political Council, speaking to an Online Journal correspondent in July 2006, claimed that “Hezbollah differs from many Islamic groups in our treatment of women. We believe women have the ability like men to participate in all parts of life.” The Online Journal correspondent writes,
From its founding in the 1980s, Hezbollah women have headed education, medical and social service organizations. Most recently Hezbollah nominated several women to run in the Lebanese elections. It named Wafa Hoteit as a chief of Al Noor Radio (also recently bombed), and promoted 37-year-old Rima Fakhry to its highest ruling body, the Hezbollah Political Council. Part of Fakhry's duties include interpreting Islamic feminism in Sharia law for the Committee for Political Analysis.
Hezbollah’s inclination towards secular liberal values should not be overstated, however. For example, its official stance on homosexuality hews close to traditional religious teachings (see Gay rights in Lebanon: Politics).
Lebanon’s majority Shi’a areas, where Hezbollah is most prominentHezbollah not only has armed and political wings but also organises an extensive social development programme. This civilian wing runs hospitals, news services, and educational facilities. Its Reconstruction Campaign ('Jihad al-Bina') is responsible for numerous economic and infrastructure development projects in Lebanon. The group currently operates at least four hospitals, 12 clinics, 12 schools, and two agricultural centres that provide farmers with technical assistance and training. It also has an environmental department and an extensive social assistance programme. Medical care provided through Hezbollah is also less expensive than in most of the country's private hospitals and free for Hezbollah members. Most experts believe that Hezbollah's social and health programmes are worth hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
Along with the Amal Movement, Hezbollah is one of the two main organizations representing the Shia community, Lebanon's largest religious bloc, but the only militant one (Amal is a political party).
Hezbollah's civilian wing participates in the Parliament of Lebanon.In 1992, it participated in Lebanese elections for the first time, winning 12 out of 128 seats in parliament. It won 10 seats in 1996, and 8 in 2000. In the general election of 2005, it won 14 seats nationwide (of 128 total), and an Amal-Hezbollah alliance won all 23 seats in Southern Lebanon. The bloc it forms with others, the Resistance and Development Bloc, took 27.3% of the seats (see Lebanese general election, 2005).
Hezbollah is a minority partner in the current Cabinet, holding two (and endorsing a third) cabinet positions  in the Lebanese government of July 2005.
Mohamed Fneish was appointed Energy and Water Minister in the cabinet and has been quoted as saying "We are a political force that took part in the polls under the banner of defending the resistance and protecting Lebanon and got among the highest level of popular backing ... Hezbollah’s resistance (against Israel) does not in any way contradict its political role. If joining the government and parliament is a national duty, then so is defending the country.”
Hezbollah provides many social services in Lebanon. According to CNN: "Hezbollah did everything that a government should do, from collecting the garbage to running hospitals and repairing schools."
In 1996’s “The Electoral Program of Hizbullah,” the organization declared its wish to improve educational and health system. Then on May 2006 as UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs published: "Hezbollah not only has armed and political wings - it also boasts an extensive social development programme. The group currently operates at least four hospitals, 12 clinics, 12 schools and two agricultural centres that provide farmers with technical assistance and training. It also has an environmental department and an extensive social assistance programme. Medical care is also cheaper than in most of the country's private hospitals and free for Hezbollah members."
Now Hezbollah social service agencies provide health care and schooling for poor farmers.  Even during the war with Israel during July 2006 when there is no running water in Beirut, Hezbollah is arranging supplies all around the city. "People here [in South Beirut] see Hezbollah as a political movement and a social service provider as much as it is a militia that delivers the goods for its followers, in this traditionally poor and dispossessed Shiite community."
Hezbollah also engages in organizing youths in the universities in other activities, such as promoting recycling on campus. 
Hezbollah operates a satellite television station from Lebanon, Al-Manar TV ("the Lighthouse") as well as a radio station, al-Nour ("the Light"). Kabdat Alla ("The Fist of God") is the monthly magazine of Hezbollah's paramilitary wing.
Al Manar broadcasts news in Arabic, English, French and Hebrew and is widely watched both in Lebanon and in other Arab countries. Its transmission in France (even via satellite, not by any station based on French territory) is controversial. It has been accused of promoting religious and racial hatred (against Jews), which is a criminal offense in France. On December 13, 2004, the French Conseil d'État, acting on the request of the French TV authorities, issued an injunction to Eutelsat to cease the broadcasting of Al Manar in France.
The Hezbollah Central Internet Bureau in 2003 released a Video Game titled Special Force, intended to simulate Arab-Israeli conflicts from an Arab perspective.
Hezbollah has a military branch known as Al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya ("The Islamic Resistance"), and is the possible sponsor of a number of lesser-known militant organizations, some of which may be little more than fronts for Hezbollah itself. These organizations include the Organization of the Oppressed, the Revolutionary Justice Organization, the Organization of Right Against Wrong, and Followers of the Prophet Muhammad..
Recruts being sworn in - Beirut, November 11, 2001See also: Hezbollah rocket force
The strength of Hezbollah's forces are disputed, and has been variously estimated as "several thousand" and several thousand supporters and a few hundred devotee operatives. The International Institute for Strategic Studies estimates Hezbollah forces to 600-1000 active fighters (with 3,000 - 5,000 available and 10,000 reservists), 10,000 - 15,000 rockets of the Katyusha, Fajr-3 and Fajr-5 type. They also estimate a stockpile of 30 missiles of the Zelzal type. According to Haaretz Hezbollah is not a small guerrilla organization. Israel faces a trained, skilled, well-organized, highly motivated infantry that is equipped with the cream of the crop of modern weaponry from the arsenals of Syria, Iran, Russia and China, and which is very familiar with the territory on which it is fighting.
The military wing of Hezbollah is considered to be the most capable non-state armed group in the Middle East. "Islamic Resistance guerrillas are reckoned to be amongst the most dedicated, motivated and highly trained of their kind. Any Hezbollah member receiving military training is likely to do so at the hands of IRGC [the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps], either in southern Lebanon or in camps in Iran. The increasingly sophisticated methods used by IRGC members indicates that they are trained using Israeli and US military manuals; the emphasis of this training is on the tactics of attrition, mobility, intelligence gathering and night-time manoeuvres."
According to Israeli and American sources, Hezbollah has three units charged with intelligence operations.
One unit is responsible for intelligence activities against Israel, primarily by recruiting and running agents in order to gather information about Israeli military bases and other potential targets. It is claimed that this unit also gathers information on behalf of Iran , and is also known to conduct SIGINT operations against IDF communications .
Preventive Security is the organization's internal security formation, and is responsible for counter-intelligence and communication security, as well as operating its prisons and interrogation centers.
According to Michael Eisenstadt, of the pro-Israeli Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Hezbollah also has a unit called Unit 1800 which aids Palestinians engaged in their operations, by providing funding, direction, weapons, and bomb-building instructions.
Stance on the use of 'terrorist' tactics
Hezbollah has disclaimed the use of some 'terrorist' tactics, particularly those that result in the deaths of innocent people. For example, although the group first became known for pioneering the use of suicide bombings in the region, its clerics have never been entirely comfortable with the tactic, and it has not been directly involved in a suicide bombing since 1999.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks, Hezbollah condemned Al Qaeda for targeting the civilian World Trade Center, though it remained silent on the attack on the Pentagon, presumably considering it a legitimate military target. It denounced the Armed Islamic Group massacres in Algeria, Al-Gama’a al-Islamiyya attacks on tourists in Egypt, and the murder of Nick Berg. Nasrallah, in a 2006 interview with the Washington Post, condemned violence against innocent civilians: “[I]f there are American tourists, or intellectuals, doctors, or professors who have nothing to do with this war, they are innocent, even though they are Americans, and it is forbidden. It is not acceptable to harm them.”
Foreign and domestic relations
The former head of the German intelligence service BND, August Hanning, during the press conference in Beirut, regarding the German negotiated prisoner exchange between Israel and Hezbollah. January 30, 2004 see also Elchanan Tenenbaum.Hezbollah claims that it forbids its fighters entry into Iraq for any reason, and that no Hezbollah units or individual fighters have entered Iraq to support any Iraqi faction fighting the United States. However, on April 2, 2004, Muqtada al-Sadr announced his intention to form chapters of Hezbollah and Hamas in Iraq. He is not known to have consulted Hezbollah or Hamas before making this statement.
It is widely believed that Hafez al-Assad, who was president of Syria from 1971 to 2000, and Hezbollah were closely linked; this did not significantly affect his relations with the rest of the world. Bashar al-Assad, his son and successor, has been subjected to sanctions by the U.S. due to (among other things, such as occupying Lebanon) his continued support for Hezbollah, which it views as a terrorist organization. However, on March 3, 2005, United States President George W. Bush and his administration stated that it would consider Hezbollah legitimate if it disarmed, but also said that this did not represent a change in their view of the organization, which is unlikely to do so.
In an interview on Al-Arabiya TV in Dubai, former Hezbollah Secretary-General Subhi Al-Tufeili said  Hezbollah definitely fosters its relations with the Syrians, but Hezbollah's real leadership is 'the rule of the jurisprudence'.
Alleged links to al-Qaeda
United States intelligence officials and other observers believe there has been contact between Hezbollah and low-level al-Qaeda figures who fled Afghanistan for Lebanon. Some have suggested a broader alliance between Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
On the other hand, others point out that al-Qaeda’s Sunni Wahhabist ideology is largely incompatible with Hezbollah’s relatively liberal brand of Shia Islam; in fact, some Sunni leaders consider Hezbollah to be apostate. Al-Qaeda has demonstrated its distaste for Shi’as in suicide bombings and attacks on Shi’a civilian targets in Iraq. Hezbollah denies any ties to al-Qaeda, and many reliable sources report that there exists no evidence of a connection between Hezbollah and al-Qaeda. Zarqawi has issued an audio recording in which he called Hezbollah an “enemy of Sunnis” and a “shield” for Israel, for protecting Israel by preventing Palestinian attacks from Lebanon.
Nasrallah denies links to al-Qaeda, present or past, stating in a 2002 interview that the two organizations work in different areas and face different enemies. Hezbollah’s aim has been the “confrontation of the Zionist plan,” said Nasrallah, while bin Laden has focused on Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Bosnia, and Chechnya. “So we are talking about two different areas and battles facing two completely different enemies. This was the reason why there wasn’t any contact.”
As part of a surge of intersectarian support for Lebanon’s Muslims during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda’s deputy leader, called for Muslims to rise up in a holy war against Zionists and join the fighting in Lebanon.
Position of the UN
UN Security Council Resolution 1559, calls for "the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militia", echoing the Taif Agreement that ended the Lebanese Civil War, but does not explicitly include Hezbollah although Kofi Annan has advanced this interpretation. The Lebanese Government and Hezbollah dispute the application of this resolution to Hezbollah, referring to it as a "resistance movement" and not a militia. Hezbollah's deputy leader Naim Qassem has said that its forces might become a "reservist army" within the Lebanese army, though this suggestion is not universally supported within the organisation.
The UN’s Deputy Secretary-General, Mark Malloch Brown, contests characterisations of the Lebanese militia as a terrorist organisation in the mould of al-Qaeda. While acknowledging that “Hezbollah employs terrorist tactics,” he says that it is unhelpful to call it a terrorist organization; the United States and the international community, in his view, would do well to respect it as a legitimate political party. Brown also criticized Hizbullah, "It is making no effort to hit military targets; it's just a broadside against civilian targets," .
Relationship to the Lebanese government
The government of Lebanon has accepted Al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya as a legitimate resistance organisation. The Prime Minister of Lebanon said that "the continued presence of Israeli occupation of Lebanese lands in the Shebaa Farms region is what contributes to the presence of Hezbollah weapons. The international community must help us in (getting) an Israeli withdrawal from Shebaa Farms so we can solve the problem of Hezbollah's arms." .
UN Security Council Resolution 1559 calls for "the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias." Israel has lodged continual complaints about Hezbollah's actions.
Relationship to Hamas and Palestinian national movement
According to CRS report for U.S. congress "Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s leader, suggested that the Hezbollah operation might provide a way out of the crisis in Gaza because Israel had negotiated with Hezbollah indirectly in the past although it is refusing to negotiate with Hamas now. He said that the only way the soldiers would be returned would be through a prisoner exchange. Although Hezbollah and Hamas are not organizationally linked, Hezbollah has acted in some ways as a mentor or role model for Hamas, which has sought to emulate the Lebanese group’s political and media success. Hamas’s kidnaping of the Israeli soldier follows a different Hezbollah example. Hezbollah has been claimed to provide terrorist training for Hamas, and the two groups share the goal of driving Israel from occupied territories and ultimately from Israel proper; both maintain close ties with Iran."
According to an Israeli military source, Hezbollah assists Hamas with bomb production: "They know how to make them more concentrated, what kind of screw to use, how to pack more explosives into less space."
Nasrallah has declared his support for the ongoing al-Aqsa intifada.
Hezbollah has engaged in joint operations with the Sunni Palestinian militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement.
Assistance from abroad
Hezbollah allegedly receives financial and political assistance, as well as weapons and training, from the Islamic Republic of Iran. The US estimates that Iran was giving Hezbollah about $60-$100 million per year in financial assistance but that assistance declined as other funding was secured, primarily from South America  . Some estimates of Iran's aid are as high as $200-million annually.
Mohammed Raad, at one time leader of Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc, said money from Iran came only through private charities to be used for health care, education and the support of war widows. Hezbollah's main sources of income, he said, are the party's investment portfolios and wealthy Shiites.
Hezbollah has also received Iranian-supplied weaponry, including 11,500 missiles already in place in southern Lebanon. Three thousand Hezbollah militants have undergone training in Iran, which included guerilla warfare, firing missiles and rocket artillery, operating unmanned drones, marine warfare and conventional war operations. Finally, 50 pilots have been trained in Iran in the past two years.
Mahmoud Ali Suleiman, the Hezbollah operative captured in August 2006 by the IDF for his role in the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12, admitted during his interrogation that he received weapons-training and religious instruction in Iran. He told his interrogators that he rode in a civilian car to Damascus, from where he flew to Iran. Other than the Russian-made Katyusha, Hezbollah's reported artillery cache is entirely Iranian-made.
On August 4, 2006, Jane's Defense Weekly, a defense industry magazine, reported that Hezbollah asked Iran for "a constant supply of weapons to support its operations against Israel" in the Israel-Lebanon conflict. The report cited Western diplomatic sources as saying that Iranian authorities promised Hezbollah a steady supply of weapons `"for the next stage of the confrontation". 
Iran long denied supplying Hezbollah with weapons, despite persistent reports to the contrary However, "Mohtashami Pur, a one-time ambassador to Lebanon who currently holds the title of secretary-general of the 'Intifada conference,' told an Iranian newspaper that Iran transferred the missiles to the Shi'ite militia, adding that the organization has his country's blessing to use the weapons in defense of Lebanon". The Israel Defence Forces regard Hezbollah as virtually an arm of the Iranian armed forces; a senior Israeli defence official told Jane's Defence Weekly that "we should consider that what we are facing in Lebanon is not a militia but rather a special forces brigade of the Iranian Army." 
Similar claims and denials regarding supply of weapons have been made with respect to Syria  
The U.S. Treasury Department has also accused Hezbollah of raising funds by counterfeiting U.S. currency. Researchers at the American Naval War College claimed that Hezbollah raises $10-million annually in Paraguay, which may, in some cases, be extorted. Dr. Matthew Levitt told a committee of the US Senate that Hezbollah engages in a "wide variety of criminal enterprises" worldwide in order to raise funds.
Money is also received from supporters abroad. Mohammed Hammoud was convicted in the United States for "violating a ban on material support of groups designated as terrorist organizations". The amount was USD 3,500, which Hammoud claimed was to "support Hezbollah's efforts to distribute books at schools and improve public water systems."
Hezbollah claims to raise most of its money from donations. "It's no secret that Hezbollah receives financial help from Iran, but not from Syria," said Hezbollah spokesman Hussein Nabulsi.
Current Relationship with Iran
In a July 20, 2006 article, the widely respected Iran and Middle East scholar, Fred Halliday, wrote that Sheikh Naim Qassem, deputy leader of Hizbollah under Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, told him Hizbollah follows Iran's leadership as a matter of principle:
"On the matter of political relations with Iran, the sheikh was absolutely clear. Hizbollah regards the Iranian supreme leader, in this case Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as its ultimate authority; all major political decisions regarding Hizbollah are referred to – when not actually taken in – Iran. He gave the example of the decision taken in 1992 to enter Lebanese national politics: Hizbollah set up a commission, which prepared a report, with various options; this report was sent to Iran; it was Ayatollah Khamenei himself who took the final decision, in favour of participation."
Outside views of Hezbollah
Governments disagree on Hezbollah’s status as a legitimate political entity, a terrorist organization, or both.
Within Lebanon, popular support for Hezbollah’s military actions had been waning since Israel’s withdrawal in 2000. Since the start of the present conflict with Israel, however, that has changed. Public opinion has swung dramatically in Hezbollah’s favor, with one poll in late July showing an overwhelming majority of Lebanese, across sectarian lines, now backing the group’s “confrontation.”
While the Hezbollah is considered by the US, Israel, Canada and Australia to be a terrorist organization, the governments of many Muslim and Arab nations regard Hezbollah as a legitimate resistance movement.
According to a poll released by the "Beirut Center for Research and Information" on 26 July during 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, 87 percent of Lebanese support Hezbollah's fight with Israel, a rise of 29 percent on a similar poll conducted in February. More striking, however, is the level of support for Hezbollah's resistance from non-Shiite communities. Eighty percent of Christians polled supported Hezbollah along with 80 percent of Druze and 89 percent of Sunnis., while according to another poll, from July 2005, 74 percent of Christian Lebanese viewed Hezbollah as a resistance organization.