16 February 1985

Hezbollah is founded.

Hezbollah is a Shia Islamist political party and militant group based in Lebanon. Its name, which means “Party of Allah” or “Party of God” in Arabic, reflects its ideology which is heavily influenced by the teachings of Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini. Hezbollah was founded in the early 1980s following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, with the primary goal of resisting Israeli occupation of Lebanese territories.

Origins and Ideology: Hezbollah emerged in the early 1980s in response to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. It was initially formed with the support of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and received training and weapons from Iran. The group’s ideology combines Shia Islamism with anti-Israeli and anti-Western sentiments.

Political Wing: Hezbollah operates both as a political party and a militant organization. It has a significant presence in Lebanese politics, holding seats in the Lebanese parliament and having representation in the cabinet. Hezbollah’s political wing provides social services, including schools, hospitals, and other welfare programs, which has earned it support among Lebanon’s Shia population.

Militant Activities: Hezbollah gained international notoriety for its involvement in several conflicts, including the Lebanese Civil War, the conflict with Israel, and the Syrian Civil War. It is known for its guerrilla warfare tactics and its ability to launch rocket attacks into Israel. Hezbollah also fought alongside the Syrian government forces in the Syrian Civil War, supporting the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Finances and Support: Hezbollah is believed to receive significant financial and military support from Iran. It also generates income through legitimate business enterprises, as well as through illicit activities such as drug trafficking and money laundering. Additionally, it receives support from the Lebanese Shia diaspora.

Designation as a Terrorist Organization: Many Western countries, including the United States, Canada, and the European Union, designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization due to its history of attacks against Israeli and Western targets. However, within Lebanon and some other parts of the Middle East, Hezbollah is seen as a legitimate resistance movement against Israeli occupation and as a defender of Shia interests.

Influence and Power: Hezbollah is one of the most powerful non-state actors in the Middle East and wields significant influence in Lebanese politics. Its military capabilities, coupled with its political and social influence, make it a key player in the region’s geopolitics.