on the Middle East
Mobilisation and Power
London: Hurst&Co./New York: Oxford University Press
2016, 482 p.
ALMOST thirty years after its foundation, Lebanese Hezbollah remains an organization difficult to understand. From idolized to despised, its very definition varies greatly according to the interrogated interlocutor: an Islamist terrorist group dedicated to destroying Israel or the first Arab national Resistance to have ever defeated Tel-Aviv's troops, a patriotic and respectable party or a fascist network having managed to control all levers of Lebanese political life... what exactly is Hezbollah? How did it acquire such an important role in the Middle-Eastern game? How did it succeed in becoming the alpha and omega of Lebanese politics? Hezbollah intrigues all the more as it does not let observers approach and study it easily. Its weakening, if not its complete demise, have been announced many times since its inception in the early 1980s. But the fact is that, after more than thirty years of existence, Hezbollah has never stopped growing in power, on the national stage as well as on the regional one. Just as its public is nowadays as supportive and loyal as ever.
This book has three purposes. It first gives an articulated definition of Hezbollah, presenting a thorough history of the party, describing its well-built internal structure, and the large scope of its social and political action. It then explains the evolution of the party's mobilization. Finally, it illustrates another path, political but mainly identity-related, that of the Shiite community, today the main constituent of Lebanese society.
Through a rigorous and richly documented study, mainly based on primary sources, amongst which hundreds of interviews with rank and file members, executives and officials of the party, a scrutiny of the main events that shook Lebanon during the last fifteen years, and research material never examined before, the author unveils brand new aspects of this organization, thus completing, in a clear and efficient manner, our understanding of both the "Hezbollah phenomenon" and the Lebanese politics of the last two decades.