• Hezbollah Won’t Stand Down in a US-Iran Conflict

    On January 28, 2015, a colleague and I were driving north in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley to report on the latest developments involving the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS), which was then occupying a desolate mountain range straddling the Lebanon-Syria border. Shortly before midday, we received news that Hezbollah had just launched an ambush against an Israeli military convoy on Lebanon’s southeast border. We immediately did a U-turn and began heading south.

    Attacks by Hezbollah in south Lebanon against Israeli forces had been rare since the end of the month-long 2006 war. But this one did not come as a surprise. Ten...

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  • Hezbollah’s New Drug Rehab Unit Points to Limits of US Sanctions Policy

    Up an untarmacked road, high above the Mediterranean Sea, the Shifa' Speciality Hospital (SSH) sits behind half-built apartment blocks in the suburban town of Aaramoun just south of Beirut.  

    The new hospital opened officially on May 1 and is managed by Hezbollah’s Islamic Health Unit, a social service provider falling under the group’s Executive Council—one of five branches into which Hezbollah’s political, social and military activities are divided. There are few signs of the Iran-backed Lebanese group at the opening event:...

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  • IRGC Designation: A Lost Opportunity to Weaken Hezbollah in Lebanon

    Designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) stirred panic in Lebanon. Hezbollah’s allies in the Lebanese government—such as the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and Amal—worried they too would soon bear the brunt of American sanctions. But US officials reassured a hastily dispatched delegation of the group’s allies last week that despite the more aggressive stance on Iran, they would suffer no consequences for empowering its primary proxy. In doing so, the United States lost an opportunity to weaken Hezbollah through deterring its allies. 

    Because Hezbollah has enmeshed itself in almost every level of Lebanese government and society, countering its growing strength without harming the integrity of the Lebanese state remains a challenge. Differing but insufficient solutions to this dilemma exist. ...

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  • UK’s Hezbollah Ban May Signal Tougher Stance on Iran

    Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah once dubbed dividing his group into distinct political and military wings an “English innovation.” Yet, last week, the United Kingdom decided to end this mainstay of British policy. Shortly after Home Secretary Sajid Javid announced a total ban on Hezbollah, Parliament amended the UK’s Terrorism Act 2000 to proscribe the group “in its entirety.” London’s acknowledgment of Hezbollah’s unity aligns British law and policy with the United States. In doing so, the UK is signaling a partial departure from Europe’s approach to the group’s patron, Iran, but more importantly, a third way between American confrontation and European conciliation.

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  • UK Blacklisting of Hezbollah Is Making Iran Hesitant to Join FATF

    Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s much-publicized resignation was largely attributed to the existence of parallel power structures in Iran that adversely affect many areas of policymaking and governance, including foreign policy.

    One policy issue that has caused a great deal of controversy among Iran’s ruling elite is whether to implement requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on money laundering, terrorism financing and transnational organized crime.

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  • Why Assad’s Alliance With Iran and Hezbollah Will Endure

    The Tehran-Damascus-Hezbollah trilateral partnership has been decades in the making. It pre-dates the Syrian civil war, has strengthened as a result of the war and will likely endure in the post-war years.

    After the Iranian revolution in 1979, shared enmity of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Israel and the United States brought Damascus and Tehran together. Following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, Tehran and Damascus joined forces to found Hezbollah, mainly to enhance their respective deterrence capabilities against Israel and the United States. The withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon in 2005, the 2006 Hezbollah-Israel war and Hezbollah’s role in the Syrian civil war since 2012 turned the Lebanese proxy into a strategic partner and earned the Party of God a seat at the grownups’ table. 

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  • Hezbollah’s Evolving Role in Syria and Lebanon

    Hezbollah has been instrumental to Iran’s power play in the Middle East, and its behavior is often evocative of Iran’s priorities in Syria and Lebanon. As the United States ramps up sanctions against Tehran and the war winds down in Syria, Hezbollah has adapted by scaling back and shifting its role in regime areas while escalating its political rhetoric and activity in Lebanon. 

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  • Lebanon’s Elections: Hezbollah in the Driver’s Seat?

    Hezbollah’s emergence as the strongest political faction during the Lebanese May elections confirms Iran’s sway over Lebanon, with the party now capable of securing an unchallenged veto at the parliamentary level and an absolute majority if it secures the right alliances. The recent electoral results also underline Hezbollah’s continued grip over its community despite ongoing governance challenges, and could herald instability for the Land of the Cedar amid escalating regional tensions.

    The May 6 Lebanese elections granted Hezbollah a comfortable majority. “Hezbollah’s block is unwavering since 2009, with thirteen seats for the organization. The main difference is that now, with allies such as the Syrian Nationalist Progressive Party, Amal, the Baathist movement, and the Marada’s advances in parliament (included in the hard March 8 core), the coalition...

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  • The United States-Lebanese Armed Forces Partnership: Challenges, Risks, and Rewards

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    Over the past year, many have questioned the extent to which the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) are an arm of the Lebanese state or beholden to Hezbollah. Pointing to the LAF’s complicated relationship with Hezbollah, congressional and other voices in the United States have criticized US security assistance to Lebanon and threatened to withhold assistance. Yet, over the past decade, the military capabilities of the LAF have improved significantly, and the group has effectively defended Lebanon’s borders, including against ISIS. In “The...

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  • Alfoneh Quoted in The Wall Street Journal on Hezbollah Facing Discontent Before Lebanon Election

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