Lebanon is a Middle Eastern country located between Israel and Syria; some see it as a ticking time bomb of terror while others find comfort and a sense of nationality and pride. As one of the most religiously diverse countries in the Middle East, Lebanon often deals with religious and political disputes, most often within the Islamic religion (Sunni Vs. Shiite). Lebanon is predominantly Christian and Islam with a small group of practicing Jews and other religions. Lebanon’s legal system is based off of a French legal code and all of their religious, personal status, marriage and divorce laws relate to the Jewish, Islamic, and Christian communities. Religion is a very important aspect of the political sector in Lebanon and is often the deciding factor for which political side one takes. The Lebanese Armed Forces are technically the armed forces of Lebanon, but behind the scenes it is known that Hezbollah, a powerful militia group in Lebanon is the strongest military force in the country. Hezbollah helps to fund most development projects in Lebanon, such as rebuilding schools and churches, not to mention carrying out most military jobs. Some see Hezbollah as a terrorist group while others feel that they are they only hope for a revolution in Lebanon.
Hezbollah was founded in Lebanon in 1982 as a response to Israeli intervention. Hezbollah was originally formed in the 80’s in hopes of spreading the Islamic Revolution. In the Arab world they are looked at as a legit organization or resistance group out to defend their land from the Israelis’. The largest following of Hezbollah comes from an Islamic group called the Shiites who just to happen to be the poorest community in the Mediterranean. Over the past generation Hezbollah has transformed itself from a small militant group known primarily for terrorist attacks, to the country’s strongest political and military force. The first time that Hezbollah came to be noticed in the media was in 1983, when they were blamed for the bombing of a U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 240 soldiers. Although The United States sees Hezbollah as terrorist group, most Lebanese see them as a militia group more powerful than the Lebanese Army that has the power to effectively protect and serve their country.
Over the years Hezbollah’s largest foreign ally, Iran has been said to have given Hezbollah $200 million annually in its support of their militia force. Hezbollah relies heavily on Iran’s support and has high hopes of use their funding I order to rebuild the Lebanon after its war with Israel in 2006. Recently Iran’s support has diminished due to its recent economic crisis. In recent years Iran has been the driving force behind Hezbollah, but funding has been put on a small hold due to Iran’s instability.
Although the United States disagrees completely with Hezbollah, they still strive to maintain positive relationships with Lebanon. The United States wants to help Lebanon preserve its independence, sovereignty, national unity, and territorial integrity, but is less willing to help if Hezbollah continues to control the security of the country. The United States fully supports the disarming of all militias and more the deployment of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF). The United States believes that a peaceful, prosperous, and stable Lebanon can make an important contribution to comprehensive peace in the Middle East.
Not only have the United States tried to rid Lebanon of Hezbollah, they hav also developed man recovery programs. The first was a recovery program from 1975 through 2005 that totaled more than $400 million. This Lebanese aid from the United States was for relief, recovery, rebuilding, and security in the wake of the 2006 war against Israel. Also, In hopes of restoring the deployment of the LAF throughout Lebanon; in 1993, the U.S. resumed the International Military Education and Training program in Lebanon to help build up the LAF in order to show the importance of civilian control of the military. This is basically aid from the U.S. in hopes of completely riding Lebanon of its militia forces. Sales of excess defense articles (EDA), a USA allies force support system, resumed in 1991 and has allowed the LAF to enhance both its transportation and communications capabilities, which were severely degraded during the Civil War. This support reflects the importance the United States has in supporting the sustainable development and the restoration of an independent, sovereign, unified, and anti-militia Lebanon.
Although the United States and Lebanon have been able to maintain a progressive relationship, there is one thing that the United States will not stand for in Lebanon and that is Hezbollah. The United States regards them as a terrorist group and now even more than ever the has suspicions of Hezbollah relying on criminal enterprises such as cocaine trafficking with Columbia in order to make up for the lost funding from Iran. In order for the United States and Lebanon to remain civil it is pertinent for Hezbollah to be destroyed. While watching a Vice interview between an American Journalist and a Hezbollah insider, (links below), it was interesting to see Hezbollah from an insiders perspective, most Shiites worship them and feel that Hezbollah is their only hope for a revolution. One man on the streets of Beirut said that most people follow Hezbollah because they are the only chance for the start of a revolution. The amount of money and control that Hezbollah holds has the power to make huge changes, they just need to use their power in the right way. Hezbollah is growing at a rapid pace and with much support from the Lebanese and Iranians it is going nowhere fast. Perhaps using less armed force and more positive action is what the militia group needs in order to create a successful revolution.