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Where is Hezbollah Heading?

15/06/2009

Just a week after the Lebanese parliamentary elections, which saw the pro-Western coalition win over the Hezbollah camp, how far can the ‘Party of God’ go? Dr Magnus Ranstorp of the Swedish National Defence College and author of Hizballah in Lebanon discussed the future of the movement at an ICSR seminar on 12 June.

He pointed out that both Hamas and Hezbollah had managed to create a state within a state by building an extensive network of coalitions to counterbalance the opposition; and by establishing a parallel system of governance with their leading authority.

According to Ranstorp, even if Hezbollah seems weakened by the recent election results, its second place in the race may actually turn out to be a blessing for the group, preventing them from having to confront the international community from a position of power. Instead, Hezbollah has built enough connections and networks within the country, making sure that its power in Lebanon remains virtually unchanged, no matter who is in power.

In Ranstorp’s view, the most critical issue for Hezbollah today is the investigation into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri in 2005. A recent report in the German news magazine ‘Der Spiegel’ alleged Hezbollah’s involvement in the murder – if correct, this could prove far more damaging to Hezbollah’s legitimacy than any election defeat.