United States Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte testified before Congress last week that an emboldened Hizbollah, backed by Syria and Iran and perceiving success in its war with Israel last summer, is a growing danger to the United States. Hizbollah’s influence in Lebanon and the surrounding region continues to hold major implications for Middle East policy – yet how widely understood are Hizbollah’s political ambitions and strategies among global audiences?
In this Carnegie Policy Outlook, In Their Own Words: Hizbollah’s Strategy in the Current Confrontation, visiting scholar Amal Saad-Ghorayeb provides an in-depth look into the mindset of Hizbollah’s leadership, including their priorities, justifications for continued armament, and animosity towards the United States. Through unprecedented access to high-ranking Hizbollah officials, including Hizbollah’s Deputy Secretary General, Saad-Ghorayeb summarizes numerous interviews to provide a unique glimpse into this complex organization’s goals and tactics.
Hizbollah views the current political crisis as an extension of the July war, waged against it by the U.S. and Israel. "By challenging the Siniora government Hizbollah sees itself as confronting the U.S.-Israeli plan to disarm the Resistance and redraw the face of Lebanon and the region.Hizbollah is determined to fight this political battle with the same zeal and determination that it displayed in the military war with Israel. Put simply, Hizbollah feels that if it loses this political conflict, it loses not only its political power and the type of Lebanon that it envisages, but also its arms," writes Saad-Ghorayeb.
Perhaps the most revealing insight into Hizbollah uncovered by the interviews is that the organization, despite its belligerence, is determined to ensure that the country does not plunge into civil war. Hizbollah considers national stability key to its mission of confronting Israel, and has encouraged its followers to refrain from being dragged into an internal conflict.
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About the Author
Amal Saad-Ghorayeb is a visiting scholar in the Carnegie Middle East Center. A leading expert on Hizbollah, she has written extensively about Lebanon’s Shiites and Lebanese politics.