Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Secretary General of Hezbollah

Seyyed Hasan Nasrallah is serving his sixth term as the third Secretary General of Hezbollah (the Party of God). Hezbollah is a Twelver Shi‘a Islamic political party and paramilitary organization based in Lebanon. Hezbollah’s ideology is based on seeking social justice through Islamic ideals. Political and military successes have made Nasrallah a vastly influential figure in Lebanon, and in the Middle East more broadly. Nasrallah and Hezbollah are also controversial; the US and Canada list Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Military Power
Nasrallah has immense importance in Lebanon as a figure of military power. He gained this influence by leading Hezbollah during the time that Israeli forces withdrew from southern Lebanon. The withdrawal resulted in huge popularity for Nasrallah, giving him increased recognition at home and abroad as a powerful figure. Hezbollah remains a de facto security force in southern Lebanon, and its military presence is felt throughout the country, with a force of around 300,000 fighters.

Lebanon’s leading Twelver Shi‘a Figure
Under Nasrallah, Hezbollah has gained in popularity and in political stature. As Syria and Israel have withdrawn from Lebanon, Hezbollah has begun to position itself as a Lebanese nationalist organization, with revolutionary Shi’ism as the guiding line. Nasrallah was educated at the Hawza Shi‘a seminary in Najaf in Iraq, where he met Abbas Musawi, his predecessor as leader of Hezbollah. Nasrallah took over leadership in 1992 and has popularized the party among the Muslim population of Lebanon, and also among non-Muslims. Hezbollah has gained wide popular appeal by providing social services, health care and also running Al Manar - an influential television station.

Social Services
Hezbollah has also won significant grassroots support by cultivating a social welfare system that provides schools, clinics, and housing in the predominantly Shi‘a parts of Lebanon, and also in others. These welfare activities are run with efficiency and rival those carried out by the state, giving the organization even broader appeal.

International Symbol of Resistance Against Israel
Nasrallah has broader influence in the Muslim world as a figure of defiance against Israel. Israel remains a key issue for the Muslim world and Hezbollah’s aim to achieve social justice in Palestine is central to its activities. The military successes Nasrallah had in the late nineties are seen as the main factor for Israel’s withdrawal from South Lebanon in 2000. Moreover, the staunch defense put up by Hezbollah forces against Israel in July 2006 earned Nasrallah many more supporters. In February 2010 he openly criticized Arab states’ lack of involvement in the opposition against Israel, while at the same time praising Syria and Iran for their support.

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