Hezbollah: From Nasser To Nasrallah – A Historical Context

South Lebanon – Photo by Nicolien Kegels

“National liberation, national reawakening, restoration of the nation to the people or Commonwealth, whatever the name used, whatever the latest expression, decolonization is always a violent event.” – Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, 1.

In order to understand Hezbollah’s political and social project it is crucial to start by placing the movement within the wider context of Middle Eastern conflicts. The Palestinian cause and the failure of the Arab nationalist experience of Gamal Abdel Nasser in the 1950’s and 1960’s in addition to the colonial experience which determined the region’s maps, borders and current political identities are all necessary components of Hezbollah’s political discourse. To this day, Palestine remains central in Arab political concerns and being Arab remains a political and ideological position that is in constant flux.

I will argue that the emergence of Hezbollah and subsequently their political discourse must be understood in relation to three main issues of contemporary Arab history:

a. the post-colonial liberation struggle for the establishment of independent political entities and identities (with Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Arab Nationalist experience as its most salient example);

b. the resurgence of Islam as a political force after the failure of secular Arab nationalism;

c. and the specifically Shiite political experience from the Iranian Revolution to the emergence of Hezbollah out of the Lebanese Shiite condition.

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