Freedom fighters and defenders of security in Lebanon and the region, is the way many describe the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah. Despite the movement’s popularity among Lebanese public, and a legitimate political role in Lebanon’s government, the US labeled Hezbollah as a terrorist organization and UK followed suit. Attempts to brand Hezbollah, a social and political movement with a strong armed wing, as a terrorist organization heavily contradict the facts of the movement and its history. Like all genuine resistance movements, the Lebanese resistance, led by Hezbollah, was born as a reaction to occupation.
However, it is to be acknowledged that not all European countries agree with this decision. Starting with Germany, that besides American pressure, did not declare Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement a terrorist organization, statement by French President Emmanuel Macron, stating that France will not blacklist Lebanon’s Hezbollah as terrorist, and finally a statement by EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, confirming that the European Union has refused to join the UK in branding the political wing of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah as a terrorist entity. Furthermore, China remains neutral and maintains contacts with Hezbollah and Russia considers Hezbollah a legitimate sociopolitical organization.
Analyzing the historical precedents of the US, or any superpower of its time a pattern of “might makes the right” dominated ideology is seen prevailing, hence studying both sides of the argument seems fair when establishing labels of “right” and “wrong”. Since there is a difference between American and Arab perception of Hezbollah, Wests terrorist label to the organization can arguably be seen as xenophobic.
As far as the US is concerned, taking a look at its history of involvement in the international political arena it is safe to say that it plays an excellent role in demonizing those who dare defy its dictates and with the vast and vicious influence of western media around the globe this has become even easier. Hezbollah was originally a Lebanese resistance movement, formed in 1980s, against Israeli occupation in South of Lebanon. Israel occupation continued for 18 years until Hezbollah was successful in reclaiming their land in May 2006. Any country has the right to armed resistance against occupation and Hezbollah was praised throughout the Middle East for the success. Israel’s aggression within Lebanon still did not halt. It bombed the Lebanese infrastructure in 2006. Rationally speaking the label of terrorism is more appropriate for an act of aggression rather than an act of resistance. Hezbollah’s actions of self-defense were quick to be seen as terrorism yet Israel’s very same claims administer a sense of legitimacy when bombing Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Furthermore, the claims are met with not only acknowledgment by the US, but in addition, millions of dollars of aid is provided to Israel, also recently signing a new military-aid deal with Israel. Yet somehow the idea of Hezbollah receiving aid from Iran is appalling.
Efforts to label Hezbollah as a terrorist organization also seem odd when the organization and its behavior, completely contradictory to that of terrorists, is examined in depth. Hezbollah has defended Lebanese sovereignty and fought against ISIS, Al Qaeda and Al Nusra Front in Syria. It is one of the major political parties in Lebanon, holding 14 of the 128 seats in the Parliament of Lebanon. Unlike actual terrorist organizations Hezbollah participates in elections and the distribution of power within domestic Lebanese politics shows there is no political intimidation by the organization. In addition, Hezbollah has introduced countless social welfare initiatives within Lebanon including hospitals, news services and educational facilities. Jihad Al Binna – Hezbollah’s construction company aimed to rebuild Dahiya, a Lebanese village with 300 million dollars already given to the homeless people. In July 2006 as Israel bombed Lebanon Hezbollah was not only arranging water supplies around Beirut on having running water shortage, but according to CNN, “Hezbollah did everything that a government should do, from collecting the garbage to running hospitals and repairing schools”. The New Humanitarian news report of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs noted:
“Hezbollah not only has armed and political wings – it also boasts an extensive social development program. Hezbollah currently operates at least four hospitals, twelve clinics, twelve schools and two agricultural centers that provide farmers with technical assistance and training. It also has an environmental department and an extensive social assistance program. Medical care is also cheaper than in most of the country’s private hospitals and free for Hezbollah members.”
Furthermore in 2005 a few American journalists went to meet with the at-the-time deputy head of Hezbollah’s executive council, Sheik Nabil Kaouk, one of them described him as such: “Kaouk spent most of the hour speaking softly and politely”, “He smiled often and offered his condolences for the US suffering in the wake of Hurricane Katrina”. It is unusual for a head of a terrorist organization to have such an unhostile attitude and sentimental concerns for a state that it is supposedly at war with. The journalist goes on to write about an experience of a Hezbollah member, Ali, that had been held in prison by the Israelis during the Israeli occupation, and how he was subjected to electric shock torture and beaten with sticks and chains, one interrogation even featured his father being brought in and beaten in front of him. Ali admitted he would like to seek revenge on his captors but his Hezbollah leaders forbid it, it is rather strange for a terrorist origination to be discouraging feelings of revenge against its enemies.
Hence, US’ one-sided policies either bully others into getting what it demands or scandalizes those that stand its grounds against it. Hezbollah like many others are just another victim of America’s use of its influence and power to vilify those posing a threat to its neocolonialist ways. The efforts to limit or possibly eliminate the resistance movement have caused colossal loss of lives, finances and various other resources yet Hezbollah still exists as a great factor of intimidation for the forces of aggression within the Middle East like Israel and US, and for that matter there will always be a constant struggle of balance of power within the Middle East. Analyzing the domestic support for the organization, Hezbollah seems to be doing well, rather improving. Despite the western blacklisting of Hezbollah, Lebanon continues its support to the organization which is emphasized with a statement by Lebanese Foreign Minister, Gebran Bassil reassuring that the Lebanese government will never identify the resistance movement as a terrorist group. Furthermore, Michel Samaha, Lebanon’s minister of information, adds that Hezbollah is seen as a legitimate resistance organization that has defended its land against an Israeli occupying force and has consistently stood up to the Israeli army.
The writer works for Global News Pakistan
The views of the writers do not necessary imply endorsement by the agency.