Hizballah formed in 1982 in response to the 1982 Israeli invasion and occupation of southern Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990). The group was conceived through the unification and collaboration of various independent Shiite militant groups that sought to resist invading Israeli forces. Hizballah is a Shiite Islamist group heavily influenced by the Iranian Revolution, as well as the al-Dawa al-Islamiya, an Iraqi militant group that followed the teachings of Mohammed Baqir al-Sadr. Many of Hizballah’s members were drawn from groups such as al-Dawa al-Islamiya and the Amal Movement, which is a Lebanese Shiite militia. By the end of 1982, a rivalry began between Hizballah and the Amal Movement due to competition over leadership amongst the Lebanese Shiite community.
Initially, Hizballah had a relatively decentralized structure; however in 1985 it established its manifesto that gave the group its political platform and a stronger organizational structure. Hizballah originally sought to create an Islamic theocratic state in Lebanon based off the Iranian model and to expel American, Israeli and French forces from Lebanon. However, this is no longer a part of their agenda due to the Taif Agreement of 1989, which ended the Lebanese War and forced foreign forces to withdraw. Israel withdrew its troops and returned all Lebanese territory in 2000. In December 2009, Hizballah announced a change in its political platform to step away from creating an Islamic state in Lebanon, instead seeking to increase Islamic fundamentalism within the democratic system. Currently the group seeks to spread Shiite Islam, destroy the state of Israel, liberate Palestine, and restore Palestinian rights.
Hizballah’s support significantly increased at three specific points in time. The first instance was in 1983 after Hizballah bombed the U.S. embassy in Beirut as well as U.S. marine barracks. The second was in the summer of 2006 after Hizballah captured two Israeli soldiers, launching a month-long war with Israel. This war ended in August due to a United Nations (UN) brokered ceasefire. The third period of growth for Hizballah was in 2008 after the Lebanese government sought to restrict Hizballah’s arms and communications. Hizballah responded by seizing West Beirut, creating an 18-month long political crisis. In an attempt to end the crisis, the group was granted veto power through the Doha Agreement (2008) and was able to maintain its arms and secured communications. View full narrative