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Havoc in the Middle East backgrounder

Hezbollah, the Long Arm of Iran

Hezbollah, which means “Party of God” in Arabic, is a Shia Islamist political party, internationally recognized terror organization, Iranian proxy, and transnational criminal group based in Lebanon. Share this:

Hezbollah, the Long Arm of Iran

Iran’s “Party of God”

The mission of Hezbollah is to create an Islamic regime in Lebanon and destroy the state of Israel to assist in exporting the Iranian Revolution worldwide by waging jihad against the West—especially the United States—and Jews worldwide.

While Westerner foreign policy analysts have some times attempted to create a distinction between Hezbollah’s political and military “wings, Hezbollah itself denies such a distinction. “We [Hezbollah] do not have a military arm and another [arm] that is political.” – Deputy Secretary General Naim Qassem

Hezbollah’s Beginnings

Hezbollah was formed in the early to mid 1980s during the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990). Many Shia jihadist groups, whose leaders were followers of Ayatollah Khomeini, Iran’s Supreme Leader, came together to resist Israeli and American troops in the country. Hezbollah’s original forces were trained and organized by about 1,500 members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) while Tehran provided financial support.

The Lebanese group issued its manifesto in 1985, known as the Manifesto of the Nine. It vowed loyalty to Ayatollah Khomeini, pressed for the creation of an Islamic state, urged foreign western entities to leave Lebanon, and called for the destruction of Israel. The manifesto outlines a plan to wage jihad against Israel, highlights the group’s strict adherence to Islam, and demands any members of Hezbollah to follow the doctrine of vilayat al-faqih, which grants ultimate authority of the group to Iran’s clerics.

Members of Hezbollah’s leadership are true believers in the Iranian Revolution and Tehran’s violent brand of Shia Islam.

The newly formed Shia jihadist organization emerged as an Iranian-sponsored resistance movement that used violence, among other tactics, to achieve its ends. It developed, over time, beyond an anti-Israel force into a powerful political entity in Lebanon and a vast criminal empire with operations throughout the world.

Iran gave Hezbollah direct assistance and sponsorship from the latter’s inception. The terror proxy group could not exist without Iran’s vast financial and arms support.

Initially, three Lebanese clerics who knew Khomeini went to Tehran asking for Iranian support to form an anti-Israel, Islamic resistance movement. Khomeini and other Iranian leaders welcomed the idea and agreed to a wide range of types of support. Iran quickly convinced its ally Syria to allow Hezbollah to use the Syrian Beka’a Valley as a safe haven in exchange for an annual subsidy of nine million barrels of oil.

With this established, Iran sent IRGC troops to assist Hezbollah in developing training camps and handling the financial support that followed. From then on Hezbollah became an Iranian proxy as both sides adhere to the same ideology and strategic vision.

Hezbollah Tehran provides its proxy with up to $200 million a year, which is especially high given the extent to which international sanctions have hurt its economy. Furthermore, Iran has supplied Hezbollah with numerous weapons over the years, allowing the terror group to amass over 100,00 rockets and anti-ship and anti-armor weaponry. This assistance has allowed Hezbollah to be an incredibly formidable foe for Israel and one that can conduct nefarious operations worldwide.