Hezbollah foreign relations

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The foreign relations of Hezbollah involve relations with other particularly Shia states, but also Sunni groups like those affiliated with the Palestinian cause; the group is also suggested to have operations outside the Middle East in places such as Latin America[1][2] and North Korea.[3]

Hezbollah has close relations with Iran.[4] It also has ties with the Alawite leadership in Syria, specifically with President Hafez al-Assad (until his death in 2000) and his son and successor Bashar al-Assad.[5] Hezbollah declared its support for the now-concluded al-Aqsa intifada.

There is little evidence of ongoing Hezbollah contact or cooperation with al-Qaeda.[6] Hezbollah's leaders denies links to al-Qaeda, present or past.[6][7] al-Qaeda's leaders, such as former Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi,[8] consider Shia, which most Hezbollah members are, to be apostates, as do Salafi-jihadis today.[9][10] However, the 9/11 Commission Report found that several Al-Qaeda operatives and top military commanders were sent to Hezbollah training camps in Lebanon in 1994.[11]

Position of the UN[edit]

UN Security Council Resolution 1559, calls for "the disbanding and disarmament of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militia",[1] echoing the Taif Agreement that ended the Lebanese Civil War, but does not explicitly include Hezbollah[12][13] although Kofi Annan has advanced this interpretation.[14][15] The Lebanese Government[16] and Hezbollah dispute the application of this resolution to Hezbollah, referring to it as a "resistance movement" and not a militia. Israel has lodged complaints about Hezbollah's actions with the UN.[17]

The UN's Deputy Secretary-General, Mark Malloch Brown, contests characterisations of the Lebanese militia as a terrorist organisation in the mould of al-Qaeda.[18] While acknowledging that "Hezbollah employs terrorist tactics,"[19] he says that it is unhelpful to call it a terrorist organization; the United States and the international community, in his view, would do well to respect it as a legitimate political party. Brown also criticized Hezbollah when he said, "It is making no effort to hit military targets; it's just a broadside against civilian targets."[20] On the other end of the spectrum, there are some in the United Nations who deny that Hezbollah's military activities against civilians are terrorist in nature at all.[21][22]


In a 20 July 2006 article, scholar Fred Halliday wrote that Sheikh Naim Qassem, deputy leader of Hezbollah under Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, told him Hezbollah follows Iran's leadership as a matter of principle.[4]


In an interview on Al-Arabiya TV in Dubai, former Hezbollah Secretary-General Subhi Al-Tufeili said[23] Hezbollah definitely fosters its relations with the Syrians, but Hezbollah's real leadership is 'the rule of the jurists'. Though Hezbollah presence in Syria was limited before 2012, Damascus had been the most important facilitator of Iranian support to the group and became increasingly active as a provider of material and political assistance on its own in the 2000s.[24]

Since 2012 Hezbollah is helping the Syrian government during the Syrian Civil War in the fight against the rebels, which Hezbollah has described as a Wahhabi-Zionist conspiracy to destroy its alliance with Syria against Israel.[25][26]

Relationships to other Islamic movements[edit]


Hezbollah is a role model to Hamas in terms of its military, political, and media operations. The two groups share common tactics and common goals as well as close ties to Iran.[27] According to an Israeli military source, Hezbollah assists Hamas with bomb production.[28] Nasrallah has declared his support for the al-Aqsa Intifada.[29]

In 2013, Hezbollah has ordered Hamas to leave Lebanon, due to Hamas support for opposition forces fighting against the Syrian President Bashar Assad. Hamas and the Lebanese Islamic Jihad denied these reports.[30]

Alleged Relationship with Al-Qaeda[edit]

There is no concrete evidence of Hezbollah contact or cooperation with al-Qaida. United States intelligence officials speculate there has been contact between Hezbollah and low-level al-Qaeda figures who fled Afghanistan for Lebanon.[31][32][33][34][35] Ali Mohamed testified that Hezbollah trained al-Qaeda operatives on how to use explosives.[36] In addition, Hezbollah and Al-Qaeda cooperate through money laundering, smuggling, and document forgeries.[36] Some American newspapers have suggested a broader alliance between Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.[37]

On the other hand, others point out that al-Qaeda's Sunni ideology is fundamentally incompatible with Hezbollah's relatively liberal brand of Shia Islam; in fact, some Wahhabi leaders consider Hezbollah to be apostate.[9] There is a Fatwa issued several years ago by Abdullah Ibn Jibreen, a former member of Saudi Arabia's Council of Senior Ulema, which describes Hezbollah as "rafidhi" – a derogatory term for Shiites used by some Sunni fanatics. Even during 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict it was cited by some hardline Sunni Muslim clerics and others writing on Islamist website.[10]

Al-Qaeda has demonstrated its distaste for Shi'as in suicide bombings and attacks on Shi'a civilian targets in Iraq.[38] Hezbollah denies any ties to al-Qaeda[39] and al-Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has issued an audio recording in which he called Hezbollah an "enemy of Sunnis."[8] Saint Petersburg Times, ABC News, and MSNBC report that there exists no evidence of a connection between Hezbollah and al-Qaeda.[40][41] Nasrallah denies links to al-Qaeda, present or past, stating in a 2002 interview that the two groups work in different areas and face different enemies. Hezbollah's aim has been to confront, and ultimately destroy, Israel, while bin Laden has focused on Afghanistan, Bosnia, and the former Yugoslavia.[6]

As part of a surge of intersectarian support for Hezbollah during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's deputy leader, called for Muslims to rise up in a holy war against Zionists and join the fighting in Lebanon.[7][42]

al-Mahdi Army[edit]

Hezbollah claims that it forbids its fighters entry into Iraq for any reason, and that no Hezbollah units or individual fighters have entered Iraq to support any Iraqi faction fighting the United States. On 2 April 2004, Iraqi cleric and Mahdi Army founder Muqtada al-Sadr announced his intention to form chapters of Hezbollah and Hamas in Iraq,[43] and Mahdi senior member Abu Mujtaba claimed they were choosing 1,500 fighters to go to Lebanon.[44]

Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement[edit]

Flag of the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine.

There have been American claims that Hezbollah has engaged in joint operations with the Sunni[45] Palestinian militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement.[46] The Islamic Jihad Movement has sent "its gratitude to the brothers in Hezbollah, the Islamic resistance in South Lebanon. Particularly Hassan Nasrallah, for their stance and support, be it financial, military or moral support".[47]

European Union[edit]

In July 2013, the European Union designated the armed wing of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. The foreign ministers of all 28 EU countries agreed to the decision which was based on concerns over Hezbollah's role in the 2012 Burgas bus bombing and the organizations involvement in Syrian civil war supporting the Ba'ath government.[48]

Two EU countries have imposed partial or complete prohibitions on Hezbollah. The Netherlands has proscribed the organisation fully,[49][50] while the United Kingdom has proscribed Hezbollah's paramilitary External Security Organization, but not the organisation's political wing.[51]

Attitude of Israel to Hezbollah[edit]

Dan Gillerman, the Israeli representative at UN, referred to Hezbollah as a "cancerous growth" that must be removed.[52]

The Israeli Government considers the use of military force in Lebanon as a legitimate means of Isolating Hizb'Allah.[53]

Betar, a revisionist Zionist youth movement, uses the Holocaust and Nazis as a cognitive filter to describe Hezbollah.[54]

Relationship with other countries and organizations[edit]

Hezbollah has been accused of training Iraqi insurgents to attack U.S. troops during the Iraq War.[55] Besides Iran and Syria, Hezbollah also has ties with Venezuela and "has demonstrated a keen interest in extending its activities to other parts of Latin America."[56] Hezbollah has also been known to recruit and train eastern Europeans, most notably in Russia, Bosnia, and Slovakia.[56]

North Korea is also known to have ties to Hezbollah.[3]

Morocco cut ties with Iran for supporting and giving aid to the Polisario Front through Hezbollah, via the Iranian embassy in Algeria.[57][58][59][60]

United States[edit]

The United States believes Hezbollah is an organization with ties to terrorism. The United States officially support the peaceful restructuring of Israel, and reconciliation with the Palestinian territories, (i.e. West Bank and the Gaza Strip). Due to their terrorist activities, neither Hezbollah or Hamas have been invited to be a part of any peace process led by the United States.

Arab League[edit]

Headquarters of the Arab League, Cairo.

On 11 March 2016, the Arab League designated Hezbollah a terrorist organization during a meeting of Arab League foreign ministers at the organization's headquarters in Egypt's capital Cairo. Nearly all 22 Arab League members supported the decision, except Lebanon, Syria, Algeria and Iraq which expressed "reservations" about the decision.[61]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Security Council (Press Release) (23 January 2006). "SECURITY COUNCIL NOTES SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS IN LEBANON". Retrieved 26 July 2006. 
  2. ^ Ha'aretz 14 August 2008, UN: We've cleared half the cluster bombs Israel dropped on Lebanon By Shlomo Shamir
  3. ^ a b Hughes, Chris (August 11, 2017). "North Korea crisis could increase risk of larger attacks from ISIS". Retrieved November 11, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "A Lebanese fragment: two days with Hizbollah". openDemocracy. 
  5. ^ "Syria and Hezbollah: A Loveless Alliance". Archived from the original on 17 July 2006. 
  6. ^ a b c Tehran, Washington, And Terror: No Agreement To Differ Archived 10 October 2006 at the Wayback Machine. by A. W. Samii, Middle East Review of International Affairs, Volume 6, No. 3, September 2002 – citing Al-Majallah, 24 – 30 March 2002 and Al-Watan 19 March 2002
  7. ^ a b Stinson, Jeffrey (28 July 2006). "Hezbollah spurns al-Qaeda". USA Today. Retrieved 4 May 2010. 
  8. ^ a b BBC News (2 June 2006). "'Zarqawi tape' urges Sunni unrest". Retrieved 26 July 2006. 
  9. ^ a b Jerusalem Post, 5 August 2006 Saudi religious leader blasts Hizbullah Archived 3 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed 6 August 2006
  10. ^ a b [1][permanent dead link]
  11. ^ 9/11 Commission Report p. 85 – citing U.S. intelligence reports
  12. ^ United Nations 24 July 2006 Press Encounter with the Secretary-General at the Security Council Stakeout Accessed 5 August 2006
  13. ^ United Nations, 17 October 2005 Highlights of the Spokesman's Noon Briefing Accessed 5 August 2006
  14. ^ United Nations, 22 July 2006 US and UN share broad long-range objectives on Middle East – Annan Accessed 5 August 2006
  15. ^ United Nations, 26 October 2005 S/2005/673 Letter dated 26 October 2005 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the Security Council Accessed 5 August 2006
  16. ^ "Hezbollah disarmament unclear". CNN. 7 May 2005. Retrieved 5 August 2006. 
  17. ^ Mekel, Arye (14 January 2003). "The situation in the Middle East – Measures to eliminate international terrorism". General Assembly Security Council, United Nations. Archived from the original on 28 June 2006. Retrieved 26 July 2006. 
  18. ^ "No peace without Hezbollah, says Beirut". Sydney Morning Herald. 4 August 2006. Retrieved 7 August 2006. 
  19. ^ "U.N.'s Malloch Brown Questions Hezbollah's 'Terror' Designation". FOx News. 3 August 2006. Retrieved 7 August 2006. 
  20. ^ "U.N. boss: Hezbollah deserves U.S. respect". World Net Daily. 3 August 2006. Retrieved 7 August 2006. 
  21. ^ Bayefsky, Anne. "Kofi Annan to Hizbullah's rescue?" Editorial. Jerusalem Post. 8 August 2006. 23 December 2006.
  22. ^ OHCHR UN Biography Mahmoud Aboul-Nasr
  23. ^ "Video clip". 
  24. ^ Kirchner, Magdalena (2016). Why States Rebel. Understanding State Sponsorship of Terrorism. Opladen: Barbara Budrich. pp. 220–230. ISBN 978-3-8474-0641-9. 
  25. ^ Barnard, Anne (3 January 2014). "Mystery in Hezbollah Operative's Life and Death" – via NYTimes.com. 
  26. ^ Barnard, Anne (9 July 2013). "Car Bombing Injures Dozens in Hezbollah Section of Beirut" – via NYTimes.com. 
  27. ^ "Israel-Hamas-Hezbollah: The Current Conflict" (PDF). CRS Report for Congress. 21 July 2006. Retrieved 8 September 2006. 
  28. ^ Washington Post, 18 August 2002 Suicide Bombers Change Mideast's Military Balance Accessed 4 August 2006
  29. ^ "Address of the Secretary-General of Hizbullah "Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah" at the Tehran Convention Supporting the Intifada (Palestinian Uprising)". Islamic Resistance in Lebanon. 24 April 2001. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 27 July 2006. 
  30. ^ "Report: Hezbollah orders Hamas out of Lebanon". The Jerusalem Post. 
  31. ^ See:
  32. ^ "Douglas Farah". douglasfarah.com. 
  33. ^ "The new front, An ominous alliance in Lebanon". The National Review. 12 July 2002. Retrieved 12 July 2002. 
  34. ^ "Qaeda and Hezbollah seen in alliance of terror". The Washington Post/The International Herald Tribune. 1 July 2002. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 1 July 2002. 
  35. ^ "The Al-Qaida-Hizballah Connection". Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya. 26 February 2006. Archived from the original on 19 August 2006. Retrieved 26 July 2006. 
  36. ^ a b Priest, Dana and Douglas Farah. "Terror Alliance Has U.S. Worried." Washington Post. 30 June 2002. 18 September 2006.
  37. ^ See:
  38. ^ Al Jazeera (14 September 2005). "Al-Zarqawi declares war on Iraqi Shia". Archived from the original on 24 October 2005. Retrieved 26 July 2006. 
  39. ^ People's Daily (China) (1 July 2002). "Lebanon's Hezbollah Denies Link with Al-Qaeda". Retrieved 26 July 2006. 
  40. ^ Jane's World Insurgency and Terrorism.Group Profile: Hizbullah Accessed 28 July 2006
  41. ^ See:
  42. ^ CNN, 27 July 2006 Al Qaeda: War with Zionists is 'jihad' Accessed 29 July 2006
  43. ^ Gettleman, Jeffrey (5 April 2004). "THE STRUGGLE FOR IRAQ: UNREST; A Young Radical's Anti-U.S. Wrath Is Unleashed". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2006.  "[Moktada al-Sadr] announced that he was opening Iraqi chapters of Hezbollah and Hamas"
  44. ^ Iraqi Shi'ite militia ready to join fight Sharon Behn, THE WASHINGTON TIMES, 24 July 2006
  45. ^ National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission) Statement of Mark Gasiorowski July 9, 2003 Accessed 8 August 2006
  46. ^ Matthew A. Levitt (November–December 2002). "Sponsoring Terrorism: Syria and Islamic Jihad". Middle East Intelligence Bulletin. Retrieved 10 August 2006. 
  47. ^ Sunni Palestinian Islamic Jihad Thanks Iran and Hezbollah (English Subtitles). YouTube. 13 July 2014. 
  48. ^ Ashish Kumar Sen (22 July 2013). "European Union designates Hezbollah's armed wing as terrorist group". The Washington Times. Retrieved 18 September 2013. 
  49. ^ "beantwoording_toezegging_inzake_de_positie_van_hezbollah". The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. p. 1. Archived from the original (website) on 6 July 2007. Retrieved 11 October 2006. 
  50. ^ "Annual Report 2004" (PDF). Netherlands General intelligence and security service. 
  51. ^ "List of proscribed terrorist groups". United Kingdom Home Office. p. 1. Archived from the original (website) on 1 March 2007. Retrieved 2 April 2007. 
  52. ^ "Transcripts". CNN.com. 
  53. ^ Norman Finkelste Reuters, 2 August 2006 "Reuters interview with Israeli PM Olmert", by Matthew Tostevin, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, "All the population which is the power base of the Hezbollah in Lebanon was displaced. They lost their properties, they lost their possessions, they are bitter, they are angry at Hezbollah and the power structure of Lebanon itself has been divided and Hezbollah is now entirely isolated in Lebanon"
  54. ^ Betar Why Israel's Reaction to Hezbollah is Right Matthias Küntzel
  55. ^ "Hezbollah's growing regional role worries Arabs." msnbc.com. 21 May 2009. 21 May 2009.
  56. ^ a b Emerson, Steven. "Blood Money: Hezbollah's revenue stream flows through the Americas." Steven Emerson. March 2007. 23 October 2009.
  57. ^ https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/05/morocco-cuts-diplomatic-ties-iran-western-sahara-feud-180501173229190.html
  58. ^ http://www.foxnews.com/world/2018/05/01/morocco-cuts-ties-with-iran-over-sahara-weapons-dispute.html
  59. ^ https://apnews.com/3aebb7da756940c99434b420a45aa84b
  60. ^ https://www.reuters.com/article/us-morocco-iran/morocco-severs-ties-with-iran-over-support-for-west-sahara-polisario-front-official-idUSKBN1I23VF
  61. ^ "Algeria's Hezbollah stance 'reflects view on resistance, not terrorism'". 

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