In the Path of Hizbullah

In This Review

In the Path of Hizbullah

By Ahmad Nizar Hamzeh
Syracuse University Press, 2004
242 pp. $24.95
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This book provides the concise comprehensiveness of a good handbook. A short historical sketch of the emergence of Hezbollah is followed by a presentation of the group's religio-political ideology, which includes acceptance of the velayat (guardianship) of the Iranian faqih (first Khomeini and then Khamenei). Thereafter, with copious charts and tables, Hamzeh presents Hezbollah's organizational structure, its social service activities, its terrorist and military acts over the years, and its political role in Lebanon. At the same time, he addresses the larger question of concern to all: Can an armed organization that has militant, terrorist roots and is bent on establishing an Islamist state evolve into a play-by-the-rules actor in a pluralistic polity? Hezbollah, Hamzeh concludes, truly believes in the possibility of eventually achieving its Islamic republic (thanks to the inexorable demographic weapon) but has shown remarkable pragmatism and adaptability en route to that goal. Thus, prudent policies pushed by others both from within Lebanon and beyond just might tie it to pluralistic politics and keep its Islamist dream at bay.