Hizballah: Terrorism, National Liberation, or Menace?

Hizballah: Terrorism, National Liberation, or Menace?

Hizballah: Terrorism, National Liberation, or Menace?

Hizballah: Terrorism, National Liberation, or Menace?

Excerpt

The Lebanese Hizballah, or the Party of God, has been a player in Lebanese and regional politics since 1982. It gained international notoriety as a result of the 1983 suicide attack that claimed the lives of 241 U.S. Marines, then stationed in Lebanon. Hizballah was also responsible for a series of kidnappings of U.S. and Western hostages during the 1980s, and attacks against Israeli and Jewish targets in Argentina during the 1990s. Since its inception, Hizballah has been engaged in a prolonged fight against Israel and its South Lebanon Army (SLA) ally, and took credit for the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000 and the dismantling of the SLA. It remains at odds with Israel over its continued occupation of an enclave in the Golan Heights along the Lebanon-Syria border. Hizballah is a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause.

In his State of the Union address in January 2002, President George W. Bush specifically mentioned Hizballah as part of a “terrorist underworld” that threatens U.S. interests. Hizballah has been on the Department of State's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations since 1997.

The author of this monograph, Dr. Sami Hajjar, reviews the history of Hizballah since its inception in 1982, and examines its role in the recent political turmoil of Lebanon and the region. Not only is Hizballah's role central in the dispute over the Shab'a Farms enclave between Lebanon and Israel, it is part of an entangled set of linkages involving Syria, Iran, the United States, the European Union, and the Palestinians. The challenge that Hizballah poses to U.S. policy in the Middle East involves complicated strategic issues, not merely problems of terrorism that could be dealt with by countermeasures.

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