Global Security Watch--Lebanon: A Reference Handbook

By David S. Sorenson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
Hezbollah in Lebanon

Lebanon’s political culture reflects the roots of its founding, and the power of the then-Maronite Christian majority, which secured the presidency and a majority of parliamentary seats. The Sunni Muslim population got second place in the confessional government, in both parliamentary seats and with the post of prime minister. The Druze were the third power center, reflecting their centuries-long existence as a regional power in Lebanon. The Shi’a, by contrast, lacked access to political power compared to the other religious groupings, epitomized by their gaining the relatively powerless post of speaker of the Lebanese parliament. For the Shi’a, the alternatives were to either hope to gain access to more power as a function of their growing population or to find alternative routes to power. The birth and rise of Hezbollah must be understood in this context.

The Shi’a of Lebanon have lived there for many centuries, though their places of origin are unclear. Some of Yemeni descent may have migrated to Lebanon in the tenth century, and over the years other Shi’a from Sunni-majority countries settled in Lebanon. Yet others migrated back and forth from Iran, particularly after the Qajar Dynasty established the Shi’a religion as the official faith of Persia in the sixteenth century. As they were relative newcomers to Lebanon compared to the Maronites and the Sunnis, the Shi’a often moved into the more remote south and into the Beqaa Valley near the Syrian border. They faced repression by the majority Sunni rules during Lebanon’s outside rule, as noted in Chapter 3. After independence, the Shi’a Lebanese labored chiefly in agriculture, which received a very small part of the national budget.

For centuries the Shi’a leaders followed Lebanese tradition, serving as local zu’ama, like the other leaders of religious groups in Lebanon, with largely local

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Global Security Watch--Lebanon: A Reference Handbook
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - The Modern History of Lebanon 7
  • Chapter 2 - The Demographics of Lebanon 49
  • Chapter 3 - Political and Economic Development in Lebanon 69
  • Chapter 4 - Hezbollah in Lebanon 103
  • Chapter 5 - The Lebanese Regional Neighborhood 121
  • Chapter 6 - Lebanon’s Military Forces 135
  • Chapter 7 - The United States and Lebanon 145
  • Epilogue 157
  • Appendix A - Biographies 161
  • Appendix B - Chronology 169
  • Appendix C - Documents 171
  • Appendix D - Presidents and Prime Ministers of Lebanon 187
  • Glossary 191
  • Index 193
  • About the Author 197
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