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Introduction and Analytical Framework

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 January 2021

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Summary

PROLOGUE: BRIEF HISTORY OVER THE PAST THREE DECADES

The Lebanese Shi‘ite resistance movement Hizbullah (Party of God) is going through a remarkable transformation, where its identity is constantly undergoing reconstruction. Hizbullah was founded in 1978 as an Islamic struggle (jihadi) movement of social and political protest by various sectors of Lebanese Shi‘ite clergy and cadres, with Iranian ideological backing. Over the period 1985 to 1991 Hizbullah became a full-fledged social movement in the sense of having a broad overall organization, structure, and ideology aiming at social change and social justice. In the early 1990s, it became a parliamentary political party.

Hizbullah defines its identity as an Islamic jihadi (struggle) movement, “whose emergence is based on an ideological, social, political and economical mixture in a special Lebanese, Arab and Islamic context”. Its roots can be traced back to 1978, which coincided with the disappearance of Imam Musa al-Sadr and the first Israeli invasion of Lebanon. By the efforts and under the auspices of leading Iranian hard-line clergy and military figures such as ‘Ali Akbar Muhtashami and Mustafa Shamran, combined with the endeavors of the first and second Hizbullah secretary-generals, Shaykh Subhi al-Tufayli and Sayyid ‘Abbas al-Musawi, Hizbullah's nucleus was established. With the victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, many Lebanese Shi‘ites saw in Imam Khumayni their new leader. During the same period, Sayyid ‘Abbas al-Musawi officially founded “The Hizbullah of Lebanon”, supported by his students and other leading ‘ulama (religious scholars).

The second Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 was the spark that reignited Hizbullah and led to its formation as an Islamic jihadi movement. The Islamic Resistance, Hizbullah's military wing, made some breakthroughs in the face of the Israeli army that advanced towards Beirut and led a campaign of resistance against the Israeli forces after they occupied the Lebanese capital. Leading Hizbullah cadres such as Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah, the current secretary-general, Sayyid Ibrahim Amin al-Sayyid, the current head of Hizbullah's political council (Politburo), and Husayn al-Musawi – currently a member of Hizbullah's parliamentary bloc after the 7 June 2009 legislature elections – were all Amal members. These, among others, were later totally against Amal joining the Lebanese cabinet.

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Publisher: Amsterdam University Press
Print publication year: 2012

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