How does the US view Hezbollah?

Hezbollah is a powerful political and military force in Lebanon.  It is a Shiite organization and also has prominent connections to Iran and Syria. Originally founded as a guerrilla force against the Israeli dominance of Southern Lebanon, it first attracted attention for a bombing of US Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. Today it is more powerful than Lebanon’s official army. The large community of Shiites depends on the organization because they provide welfare. In 2008, Hezbollah gained a legitimate position within the government.  In 2011, the prime minister of Lebanon, Najib Mikati revealed that members of Hezbollah, and also their allies dominated Lebanon’s government. Hezbollah has high control of the Lebanon’s international airport, smuggling routes along the Syrian border, and finances of various government agencies.

(New York Times: Hussein Mall/ Associated Press)

The United States relation to Hezbollah is one of opposition. It is very important to note that this viewpoint differs from that of United States and Lebanon. Politically, the US supports Lebanon and has aided in attempts to disarms militias around Lebanon and to end the conflict surround the border with Syria.  Additionally, the US has pledged over $1 billion in relief efforts from damages from Lebanon’s, 1975-1990, civil war.  Money has also been aided to give support to development programs dealing with education, public services and employment in more rural areas. To help escalate the importance of a civilian controlled military the US took part in the International Military Education and Training program in 1993.  Lebanon has a laissez-faire economy and they have signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the United States to support an increasing trade relationship.  With this positive relationship the two countries share, Lebanon’s associated militia group, Hezbollah has contributed to some set backs.

Hezbollah has a close relationship with Iran and Syria.  The United States views Hezbollah as a terrorist group and its financial foundation has made cause for much conflict. Due to Hezbollah’s relation with Iran and Syria those countries are it’s main source for financial backing. Iran is currently under financial duress due to its nuclear program and Syria is at civil war, therefore their aid to Hezbollah has diminished significantly.  However, Hezbollah’s legitimacy as a military and political organization is growing and in return its financial needs are also seeing a rise.  Due to this problem, a reliance on criminal enterprises is escalating.  In current news, The United States is accusing a Lebanese Bank of money laundering to support Hezbollah through drug trafficking money from South America.

Hezbollah Flag

The United States has accused Hezbollah of supporting the president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, and helping to get rid of those opposing the government within Syria.  The US stands in opposition to the government of Syria. Adding to the accusation, the US claims Hezbollah to have trained Syrian forces to continue out the president’s expulsion of opponents to his government from Syrians. Will these accusations be proved or fought against? Will Hezbollah’s so-thought illegal work damage the relationship the US has with Lebanon? With Lebanon’s government dominated by Hezbollah members and allies, this relationship will certainly be one to keep a close eye on.


2 thoughts on “How does the US view Hezbollah?

  1. Living in Lebanon is the only way one can get acquainted with the militia scene. Hezbollah isn’t an internal threat. Its weapons are only used against the national enemy, as stated in their agenda. However, there are other groups which have used weapons internally against fellow Lebanese citizens, and this phenomenon dates back to the civil war. I find it interesting how the media just focuses on Hezbollah and disregards other groups which have been more active in armed clashes internally. It makes me wonder if the coverage of Hezbollah by US media is directly related to the US stand against Hezbollah itself.

  2. I agree with Fatima, I think that because we live in America and we are not directly affected by Hezbollah and the militia, we don’t really understand. I had never heard of Hezbollah before this semester. I almost feel bad about not being familiar with it because it has made a huge impact on the Lebanese government, and is influencing Lebanon greatly. I wonder how the Lebanese view Hezbollah? The people that support Hezbollah, why do they support it, what is attractive about it to them? And why are Lebanese against it? There is obviously a large support group on both sides so I just wonder what their point of view is.

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