Political integration of Hezbollah into Lebanese politics
Esposito, Thomas G.
Baylouny, Anne Marie
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Hezbollah has proven itself to be a resilient, relevant, military and political force within Lebanon as well as across the Middle Eastern region. This thesis focuses on the approach through which Hezbollah, as a military, political and social organization integrates itself into Lebanese society and polity. This thesis looks at how an Islamic organization, perceived as a "terrorist-group" in the mid-1980s, continues to transform itself and achieve success in being perceived as a legitimate political actor participating in Lebanese government. Political integration is problematic for Hezbollah, since it must balance its need to be a legitimate actor within Lebanon's political system with its original, and continuing, militant objectives of liberating Lebanon and other territories under Israeli control, and in general protecting the country from Israeli incursion. The first objective requires Hezbollah to be sensitive to the needs of Lebanon and its many political factions and internal interests. The second objective requires Hezbollah to maintain its radical stance toward a neighboring state, maintain a large armed militia, and form alliances with external actors such as Syria and Iran independent of the policies of the Lebanese government. How can Hezbollah balance these interests? This thesis explores how Hezbollah seeks to reconcile these seemingly contradictory objectives.
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