Hezbollah: The Political Economy of Lebanon's Party of God

By Khashan, Hilal | Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2017 | Go to article overview

Hezbollah: The Political Economy of Lebanon's Party of God


Khashan, Hilal, Middle East Quarterly


Hezbollah: The Political Economy of Lebanon's Party of God. By Joseph Daher. London: Pluto Press, 2016. 288 pp. $30, paper.

Hezbollah (The Party of God) emerged during the turmoil of Lebanon's 15-year civil war as a champion of the disenfranchised Shiite community of that fractured country. Although Hezbollah has been keen to present itself as the defender of the poor and downtrodden, it did not take long for it to blend into Lebanon's political landscape and capitalist economic system.

There is no question that Hezbollah attends to the basic existential needs of impoverished Shiites, providing them, for example, with schooling and primary medical care and selling them discount cards to buy staple foods at subsidized prices. It also never misses an opportunity to denounce the neo-liberal economic policies of the Lebanese government as acts of aggression against the dispossessed as it did when Rafiq Hariri's government froze public sector salaries and wages and introduced a 10 percent value added tax system in 2002.

However, Daher of Lausanne University argues that there is a gap between Hezbollah's professed objective of spreading its own version of the Islamic way of life and its actual practices. The author demonstrates that, in practice, Hezbollah has abided by the rules of the Lebanese sectarian game, becoming, for example, an active participant in procuring direct investment for its perceived needs from Iran and wealthy Shiite entrepreneurs in West Africa.

Since the 1990s, and especially since Israel pulled out of southern Lebanon in May 2000, Hezbollah has been building companies and partnering with neophyte Shiite businessmen to preside over dummy corporations that help mask Iranian and Hezbollah involvement. …

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