Oil rich Arab states label Hezbollah a terrorist organization

Arab World Materials 14 March 2016 10:14 (UTC +04:00)
Many Arab countries thought it privately but avoided saying it publicly, that is until now, possibly
Oil rich Arab states  label Hezbollah a terrorist organization

By Claude Salhani-Trend:

Many Arab countries thought it privately but avoided saying it publicly, that is until now, possibly from fear of retribution. But as the Middle East conflict grows in intensity the gloves seems to come off and last week the six member countries of the oil and gas producing countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council declared the Lebanese Shiite movement, Hezbollah, a terrorist organization, echoing what Israel and the United States have long maintained.

The answer to the question whether Hezbollah is a terror organization or not is not one that can be answered with a straight yes or no. The answer, much like the politics of the region, is somewhat more complex. But before we attempt to reply to the question we may be well served with the thinking of an ancient Chinese philosopher and one of the greatest writers on military tactics of all times, Sun Tzu, and author of "The Art of War," said that the first step in defeating your enemy is to know him.

Indeed, declaring Hezbollah a terrorist organization is doing a disfavor to those trying to counter the group's philosophy and fight its expansion in the Middle East arena. Labeling Hezbollah a terrorist organization is over simplifying a very complex problem.

So is Hezbollah a terrorist organization? Over the years the group is been accused multitude of crimes, among them the US government say it has proof that Hezbollah, with the help of Syria, was responsible for the killing of 241 US servicemen, mostly US Marines, and 57 French paratroopers in Beirut on October 23, 1983.

Hezbollah did commit terrorist acts, of that there is little doubt, or at least some members of the organization carried out acts that can be classified as acts of terror.

However in order to better understand the group's actions, motivations and source of strength, one needs to take a closer look at the components that make up the movement and not lump them all into one basket marked terrorism.

Observers of the region's politics agree that Hezbollah is composed of three distinct units. First and foremost Hezbollah is a bona fide political party representing a large portion of Lebanon's Shiite community. As such they are represented in the government, with a number of important ministerial positions held by their representatives. They are also represented in the country's parliament, having a number of deputies elected on the Hezbollah slate. Because of the way in which Lebanon electoral laws are established, Hezbollah' parliamentary slate includes number of Christian members of parliament. It's government ministers and members of parliament are involved in the day-to-day running of governmental affairs, as are other political parties in the country.

Second, and perhaps the most important element of the group is it's social services element. This unit provides social services for the impoverished Shiite community in the absence of the Lebanese state. Services of primary importance such as day care centers, healthcare centers, social services and the such, are all provided for the community by the movement. This is an area of primary importance where the Lebanese state has completely failed. Quite naturally when providing such services to a segment of the population, in return the group receives much loyalty for it's actions.

And Finally the third component of Hezbollah is its military wing, which can be labeled by some parties as a" terrorist organization." The group's military unit is armed, trained and financed mostly by Iran. Hezbollah calls its military wing a "resistance" as it was Hezbollah's military forces that eventually forced Israel's withdrawal from South Lebanon.

The group's involvement in the daily lives of the Shiite community in Lebanon and sometimes beyond is so ingrained in the society that extracting one from the other would be a very difficult task unless of course the Lebanese government steps in to pick up it's responsibilities where it has been absent and it has largely failed. If you want to defeat Hezbollah start by building up the Lebanese state. There is no other way.

Claude Salhani: journalist, author, political analyst and TV and radio commentator is one of the most knowledgeable voices on the Arab-Israeli issues, the Greater Middle East, Central Asia, terrorism, and political Islam.

Claude Salhani is the author of the newly released novel, Inauguration Day-a thriller. On sale now at Amazon.com.