Lebanon, a tiny spot on a world atlas, has been gaining more and more fame as it has been making world news headlines. Elie Saab, Jebran Khalil Jebran, Georgina Rizk, Nadine Labaki, and Fairouz may resonate as Lebanon is brought up but Hezbollah is “the” word that has guaranteed the tiny spot on the map a prominent position in the international scene.
There are indisputable facts surrounding Hezbollah such as the year it was established (1982), its sectarian nature (Shiite), their sources of support (Iran and Syria), and their political agenda (resistance against Israel).
What triggers the intense debate on Hezbollah is when one is forced to complete the following statement: Hezbollah is a _________ group; and as the two most obvious choices are “terrorist” and “resistance”.
Several factors influence the choice of term. But, to those living outside Lebanon, their media absorption is decisive in the selection process. Western media portrays Hezbollah as a powerful force in Lebanon. And, that’s true. It can be seen as Hezbollah has been gaining more legitimacy through increased presence in the Lebanese government.
For the Lebanese, Hezbollah is an internal issue. It is the national resistance force against Israeli aggression. Given the Lebanese army inadequate preparedness, Hezbollah is considered to be more powerful than the army as it was able to drive off Israel in 2006. The 2006 victory provided Hezbollah with a platform of increased national support. Hezbollah was able to prove its authenticity when it comes to its resistance agenda as it fought Israel. This increased national support has been translated in the media as increased political support. And, in the media, Hezbollah seems to want to build a Muslim state and use weapons internally. However, if they did have as objectives or practices, they would have done so already since their possession of weapons is non-debatable.
The religious political group is complex in nature, which explains why it is so hard to explain and grasp its reality. One can’t assume all Hezbollah supporters support it for the same reasons. That is, some separate the party’s religious ideology from its politics, while others don’t. And, this fact justifies the presence of the two contradicting adjectives associated with Hezbollah; resistant an terrorist. Juxtaposed, these terms represent the intensity of the global debate which has put Lebanon back in the international news circle.