Why Hizbullah Will Stay Armed and Dangerous

(Foreign Affairs) Mara E. Karlin - Retaining arms is a key factor in Hizbullah's longstanding ability to subvert the Lebanese state. In May 2008, when rival Lebanese forces tried to undermine Hizbullah's communications infrastructure and minimize its covert security presence at the Beirut airport, the group responded violently, triggering the worst intra-Lebanese violence since the country's 15-year civil war. The group's patrons, Iran and Syria, play critical roles in perpetuating its armed status. Beginning in 1983 with its attack on the U.S. presence in Beirut, Hizbullah has repeatedly disrupted the region, generally to the benefit of Iranian and Syrian interests. For years, it has provided training to Iranian-backed militias in Iraq that target U.S. troops. Even if Hizbullah were interested in disarming and becoming just another Lebanese political actor (which no Hizbullah leader appears to be considering), it is not clear that the Iranian regime would permit such a move. Until the Middle East's larger political problems are resolved - including the unstable state of affairs in and around Iran - Hizbullah will remain armed and dangerous. The writer was Levant Director at the Pentagon in 2006-2007 and Special Assistant to the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy in 2007-2009.

2010-05-17 09:35:17

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