On June 30th, the Prosecutor for the Tribunal of Inquiry into the Murder of Rafiq Al-Hariri presented the Lebanese Prosecutor General with indictments against four Hezbollah activists. The four are leaders of the Movement’s Special Forces, the most senior of whom is Mustafa Badr a-Din, brother-in-law, cousin and deputy to Imad Mughniyah, who until February 2008 headed Hezbollah’s Jihad Council. At the end of July 2011, Interpol issued an international order of extradition for all four indicted men, who were wanted to stand trial before the Tribunal at the Hague. The indictments and the international order of extradition are an additional, significant component of the monumental struggle being waged in Lebanon between supporters and opponents of the Tribunal’s continued activity. This struggle has been epitomized by political violence; the elimination of people involved in the investigations; a campaign to delegitimize the Tribunal and its work; and the overthrow of the government.
By 2011, Hezbollah had emerged from the ongoing struggle between supporters and opponents of the Tribunal with the upper hand. It unseated Hariri’s coalition, obtained a majority in parliament, and headed a new coalition, which succeeding in establishing the government that Hezbollah sponsored. The subsequent events of the Arab Spring have already caused, and continue to cause, tectonic changes within Arab countries and in Middle East regional power relations. It is therefore not yet possible to predict the future of Lebanon’s Hezbollah government, or even how the coalition it leads will fare in future elections. However, it is clear that in the years since the assassination of Hariri and the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah has succeeded in securing its preeminent position in the Lebanese political arena and restoring its military structure, to the point where it has become the strongest political and military power in Lebanon.
Hezbollah is a hybrid terrorist organization, and as such strives to create synergy among its component parts, while changing the focus of its efforts among them in response to its assessment of circumstances at any given moment. During the period discussed in this article (2005-2011), Hezbollah focused on building up its military capability, which it used to achieve its political aims – by initiating political crises, wielding political violence (e.g., assassinating opponents), and deploying or threatening to deploy its military forces to “adjust” internal Lebanese affairs to its needs.