Once known for killing more Americans than any other terrorist group before 9/11, Hezbollah has evolved from Hezbollah, designated terrorist organization, to Hizbullah, resistance movement – at least in diplomatic circles.
Hezbollah has reached a ‘critical juncture’ in its political evolution. Hezbollah, has gone from a rag-tag group of TWA hijackers and Marine barrack bombers to a legitimate participant in the bi-lateral talks between the U.S. and Iran. The U.S., under this administration, has been instrumental in elevating the status of the much maligned organization. By deviating from “we don’t negotiate with terrorists” to “talking to people we don’t like,” the U.S. has further cemented Hezbollah’s legitimacy.
Despite Secretary of State John Kerry’s insistence that Hezbollah is still a terrorist organization, the onset of meetings held between the CIA, US military delegations and Hezbollah paints a different picture.
“According to Lebanese media reports, the U.S. administration has been conducting contacts with it since April-May 2012; these contacts, mostly indirect and through intermediaries, have more recently become direct as well. The reports state that at first, the U.S. administration and Hizbullah exchanged intelligence information, but later expanded the contacts into a diplomatic and political relationship, and even into dealings concerning domestic Lebanese politics.”
“First reports of U.S.-Hizbullah contact, a meeting between then-Ambassador Maura Connelly and Ibrahim, appeared in April 2012. Later, there were reports of more meetings in 2013. In May 2013, the Al-Safir Daily stated that the relations between General Security and U.S. intelligence apparatuses were initiated by the U.S. [author’s emphasis] a year previously, in May 2012, and were conducted via the U.S. Embassy. The paper said that in early 2013, the relations became direct, as expressed by a General Security delegation’s visit to the U.S.”
Mr. Obama’s administration, simply following in the footsteps of his European counterparts, is attempting to differentiate Hezbollah into a two distinct organizations – the political and the militant. One wing is to be negotiated with, the other denounced and chastised with meaningless rhetoric.
In 2013, the European Union reached a consensus designating the Iranian bank rolled, anti-imperialist, anti-West, anti-Zionist Hezbollah a “two-winged organization…divided between political and military arms.” According to European Union Ministers, making the distinction between the two incentivizes Hezbollah to “move away from violence into the political sphere.”
Masquerading as a legitimate political party since 2005, Hezbollah has made great strides in rebranding itself. With its Beruit-run Al-Manar “the Lighthouse” TV and al-Nour “the Light” radio network, Hezbollah’s image cleansing campaign has made inroads convincing the West that it has shaken off its terrorist ways. Extoling humanitarian efforts of providing free healthcare for all Hezbollah members, collecting the garbage and repairing school buildings, Hezbollah hoped to absolve themselves from their uncharacteristic behavior of hijacking of TWA Flight 847, dumping the lifeless body of former U.S. Navy diver, Robert Stethem, onto the tarmac and the bombing the US Embassy, murdering 200 Marines.
The public is led to believe the actions of Hezbollah’s militant arm were nothing more than a ruse to get its political arm a seat at the table of terror. A seat this administration was all too willing to grant.
By trying to lull us into a false sense of security with their assurances that “the danger of terrorism is huge, and the danger of Hizbullah is extremely limited,” doves politic have again diluted the brutality of terrorism, venturing further down the path of regime relativism.
Though the delineation of who is a ‘good’ terrorist and who is ‘bad’ becomes more muddled with each passing day, what isn’t muddled is our memory of the not so distant past; a time when Hezbollah disguised weapons transports as ambulances, used its citizens for human shields and hunted Israeli civilians abroad.
Many can also remember a time when the sheer hint of U.S. military might would make Middle Eastern petty tyrants quake and there was no need for negotiations.