What is original about Daher’s useful treatment of Hezbollah is his emphasis on the transformation of its base, which used to draw on the lower-middle class and the clergy but is now more closely aligned with a new Shiite capitalist class. As a result, Hezbollah is comfortable with Lebanon’s neoliberal economic policies. Daher explores the group’s changing relationship with organized labor and Lebanese civil society, the rising levels of corruption in the party, and the role of Hezbollah’s military apparatus in the Syrian civil war. Daher sees Hezbollah as an increasingly status quo force that uses its religious and military power to enhance its national and regional influence, rather than to merely confront Israel, which had been its traditional primary objective. There is one major lacuna in Daher’s narrative, however, which partly prevents him from clinching all his arguments: he makes no comprehensive analysis of Hezbollah’s finances, which depend on support from Iran; the Lebanese Shiite diaspora in the United States, Latin America, and West Africa; and the levying of a tithe on Shiites at home.
Get the latest book reviews delivered right to your inbox.