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External Aid of Iran and Increased Political Power of Hizbullah

In: Social Issues

Submitted By Joosong
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Pages 13
External Aid of Iran and
Increased Political Power of Hizbullah
(Research Proposal)

Lee, Joosong

Middle East and African Studies
Graduate School of International and Area Studies
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

I. Research Background

Hizbullah is the most powerful single political movement in Lebanon.
Hizbullah, along with the Amal Movement, represents most of Lebanese Shi'a.

The political 'victory' of Hizbullah in 2005 election was a refreshing jolt for both Lebanon and international community. The 2005 Lebanese General Elections were the first in Lebanese history to be won outright by a single electoral block and were also the first to be monitored by the United Nations. In the general elections, Hizbullah won fourteen seats in the Parliament out of 128; that is about 11% in total, and fifth most in number. And in the general elections of 2009, Hizbullah won twelve seats, which is about 10%. The results were quite a shock for the Western countries since Hizbullah’s status is quite controversial; it is in fact a legitimate political party in Lebanon, but still a resistance movement group. What is more contentious is that Hizbullah was a terrorist group before; and some states still consider Hizbullah as a terrorist group, partly or as a whole. As a matter of fact, currently Hizbullah is a legitimate political party in Lebanon which was elected by legitimate elections. The discussion now needs to move on to what was the critical factor that gave a momentum to Hizbullah to rise as one of the major political power in Lebanese political spheres.

This issue is quite controversial; some analyze this phenomenon as a reflection of popular support for Hizbullah. The number of seats in the parliament for Hizbullah, in fact, does provide a significant meaning. Moreover, Hizbullah organizes an extensive social development program and runs hospitals, news services, and educational facilities. One of its established institutions, Jihad Al Binna's Reconstruction Campaign, is responsible for numerous economic and infrastructure development projects in Lebanon. According to CNN, "Hizbullah did everything that a government should do, from collecting the garbage to running hospitals and repairing schools." It is also said that Lebanese Shiites "see Hezbollah as a political movement and a social service provider as much as it is a militia." Some others, on the other hand, interpret this phenomenon differently; they find the reason from the external reasons. The most prevalent argument on this side is that Iran has a big role behind Hizbullah. It is almost an 'open secret' that Iran financially supports Hizbullah, and this brings an assumption that Iran does have a great influence on Hizbullah and moreover on Lebanese political spheres. One thing that needs to be concerned is that this 'fact' has not been officially confirmed. In this regards, this limitations lead to a necessity of a closer examination of various contents - both official and quasi-official - that provide a viable data and background to support this notion. These examinations will be the main theme of this research; examination will be conducted throughout the research under various methods and interpreted through two of the prominent theories of international relations : Power Transition Theory and Two-Level Game Theory.

II. Research Questions

1. How big is Hizbullah's influence in Lebanon as a political party? - Is it plausible to assess Hizbullah as one of the major political forces in Lebanon?
2. How can we define ‘political force’? - Does number of seats in the parliament reveal the degree of ‘political power'? - If it does, then in case of Hizbullah, is twelve seats - which accounts for 11% of total seats and fifth biggest number - supportive?
3. What was the critical factor that helped Hizbullah to become a major political force in Lebanon? - Is it foreign aid? If that is the case, why is Iran and Syria aiding Hizbullah? - Is Iran planning to make Hizbullah as a proxy to fight against Israel, and moreover against the US? - Or does political power purely come from a popular support on their political agendas? If that is the case, then what is the reason for their widespread support? - Is it because of their social policies? Or is it because of their radical stance against Israel?

III. Hypothetical Framework

The hypothetical framework derives mainly from the research questions that have been raised above; it was built upon the assumption that Hizbullah legitimately grew as a major political force in Lebanon through external factors : Iran's positive aid.
Figure 1 It might still be quite controversial whether Iran played - or still plays - a major role in restructuring Lebanese political spheres in 2005 general elections. It is reasonable, however, to insist that Iran had - and still has - a great influence on Hizbullah, both in the days when they were a militia and also as a political party. It is almost an 'open secret' that Iran financially supported Hizbullah; their main source of income comes from donations of the public as well as from foreign aids. Hizbullah is also alleged to receive military training, weapons support from Iran, and political support from Syria. The US estimates that Iran has been giving Hizbullah about sixty to one hundred million dollars per year, and according to UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in March 2010, Hizbullah received 400 million dollars from Iran since 2006. In order to reach a logical coherence, there are two other things to be examined. The first examination will be conducted on the dependent variable, whether Hizbullah became one of the 'major political powers' in Lebanese political spheres. The next step of analysis will require examining whether the aids actually 'flowed' into the political activities of Hizbullah. These examinations will be conducted throughout the research under various methods and interpreted through two of the prominent theories of international relations : Power Transition Theory and Two-Level Game Theory.

IV. Methodology and Methods

1. Methodology

In order to examine and analyze the hypothesis, two of the prominent international relations theories will be applied. As these theories do not fit impeccably to the phenomenon of this research, some modifications needs to be applied.

1) Power Transition Theory

Power Transition Theory is a product of a prominent political scientist A.F.K. Organski in University of Michigan. He initially introduced this theory in his textbook, World Politics in 1958. His basic assumption is that the international order is hierarchically constructed; The world is organized into four types of states, and the transition of power was to occur between a dominant state and a great power, when one of the great powers - who is not satisfied with the current status quo - tries to challenge the dominant state. In this research, the United States will be selected as a dominant state, and Iran will be the unsatisfied great power of the Middle East who challenges the order. In this case, unlike the original Power Transition Theory, some modification on the structure will be made : The arena of discussion will be strictly limited to the Middle East region; Israel and the Hizbullah will be added as a minor actors in the game. Another main difference will be concerned with the terminology, the 'war.' In the original theory, war is the key instrument to ‘transit’ the power balance; this implies that in order to shift the balance in this case, the unsatisfied nation - Iran - has to conduct a war to make the power transition. In the real politics, however, ‘hot war’ is not a very realistic action for Iran to take. Iran, therefore, will 'use' Lebanon, specifically the Hizbullah, as a proxy; and in the same context, the United States will also ‘use’ its proxy Israel to fight back its proxy war. The argument concerning this proxy war will thus lead to the current political power structuring phenomenon of the Hizbullah. Since the vital interest of Hizbullah is in maintaining its political force and status in domestic politics, they have no better choice than following the instruction of Iran, since Iran’s aid is indispensible for their political activities. 2) Two-Level Game Theory

The Two-Level Game Theory is devised by Robert D. Putnam, a professor of public policy at the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government in the journal of International Organization in 1988. The basic structure of his theory - when simplified - deals with an interaction between the two parts : The First and Second Level. His theory mainly deals with the simultaneous conflict resolution negotiations at both the international and intra-national or domestic level. In this research, the first level will be a negotiation between the head of Hizbullah, which is Hassan Nasrallah, and the head of the opponent. In this case, the theory will be modified once again; the original theory assumes that the chief negotiators are the heads of the governments or the states, but in this case, the head of Hizbullah will be set as the chief negotiator - rather than the Lebanese president - since it is Nasrallah who tacitly negotiates with Iran. The second level will be the negotiation within Hizbullah. It is assumed that the constituents of the Hizbullah is divided into two groups of organizations : The first organization is the side who denies being a proxy of Iran - which in this research will be termed as an isolationist who are opposed to international cooperation - and instead seek to maintain their political power through winning the minds of the popular; the second organization - which will be named the internationalists - believes that they require a foreign aid to keep their political force, even if they become a proxy. The conflicting organizations, therefore, need to meet an agreement in order to ratify the decision of the Hizbullah leader concerning his negotiation with Iran. In this matter, the two leaders in Level I and the constituents in Level II all take a different stance and strategies in accordance to their interests. The strategies vary in large scale, but in this research, the 'strategies to alter domestic constraints abroad' (Figure 2) will be mainly dealt with. Figure 2 The 'strategies to alter domestic constraints abroad' is a strategy that will be adopted by the foreign leader, in this case Iran. In order to derive a ratification from the inner-Hizbullah level, the Iranian leader in fact have to assert an influence to both the head of Hizbullah and constituents. However, the foreign leader has a upper hand in level I negotiations since they are the donor of foreign aid; therefore, foreign leader needs to focus more on luring the isolationists of the Hizbullah. This is the main reason for taking the 'strategies to alter domestic constraints abroad,' and in doing so, the foreign leader can provide side-payments to the isolationists to induce them to accept their support; or sometimes, on the other hand, threatening can also be a plausible tactic. In either way, foreign leader’s interest is in making the opposition as a proxy; for the Hizbullah leader, his rational choice will be accepting the aid and become a proxy in order to maintain their political force.

2. Method

In order to conduct this research, each variables need to be examined respectively, and examining process will mainly be proceeded by reviewing various contents. In doing so, the Independent Variable - positive aid of Iran - will be comprised of various elements. The main factor will be financial support, in this sense, the amount of donation to Hizbullah. It will also include support in terms of providing military training, weapons, and as well as political support. The sources for the Independent Variable will be mainly from news contents and other academic articles on this issue, and additionally from reports from the international organizations, such as United Nations Humanitarian Affairs. It might also be necessary to include some of the unofficial documents, but only to a limited range as a reference. The data can also include the reports and statements from the official website of Hizbullah, but it requires elaborate examinations on its contents in order to avoid biased arguments. The Dependent Variable - the degree of political 'power' of Hizbullah in Lebanese political spheres - will mainly be focused on the changes in number of seats of Hizbullah in Lebanese Parliament. It might be controversial whether 'the number of seats in the parliament' is sufficient in representing the degree of political 'power;' it is fair enough to say that the number of seats and its proportion does provide a significant indicator in presenting the level of influence. The Dependent Variable will be limited to the period after the 2005 general elections, since it acted as a critical moment in Lebanese politics.

The sources for the Dependent Variable will be mainly from the official government reports and websites. The data concerning the 2005 general elections will be achieved from literature reviews on academic articles and books. The results and the process of 2010 general elections will be achieved from the official website for 2010 general elections. This process will also include examining various news articles and editorials concerning those elections. The data can also include the reports and statements from the official website of Hizbullah, but as mentioned above, after elaborate examinations on its contents. This research will also include the results from the field survey. Survey targets will be restricted to the Lebanese university students, professors, and if possible, various public officials. The reason for selecting so called the 'elites' as the target is to avoid emotional or rather subjective results; it is true that the results from the 'elites' cannot guarantee objectiveness of the result, but it is the least mechanism that can be applied in order to avoid the results from the victims of obscurantist policies conducted by the ruling classes. The other major reason is because the responders are required to understand exactly what 'political power' or 'the proper role of a political party' means, and also recognize the status of Hizbullah in Lebanese political spheres. The questions have not been made yet, but it will be included after examining the election results and the process.

V. Outline

The format of this research will be consisted of six chapters. The first chapter will be a general introduction of the thesis; it will include background of this research, the hypothesis, research questions, methodology and methods. The second chapter will be the literature review; it will include the results of reviewing the critical points concerning this research, especially on how to define the role and political influence of a party and the mutual interaction with the other factors, both internal and external. The third chapter will examine the dependent variable; this part will briefly present the general political spheres of Lebanon, both in historic and analytic context. It will provide a background information on the political rivalry between the alliances - the march 8 and march 14 - in 2005. It will also include an explanation on several concepts concerning the degree of political 'power,' which will set a criterion to examine Hizbullah. What will also be presented in this chapter is an analysis on the changes in number of seats of Hizbullah in Lebanese Parliament. Chapter four will be dealing with the independent variable, the external influence of Iran's positive aids. This chapter will illustrate the amount of support that Hizbullah receives from Iran, in terms of financial support as well as political influences. The process and results of theses aids will also be adduced in the chapter. Chapter five will present the causal relationship between the two variables; examining whether the aids actually 'flowed' into the political activities of Hizbullah, and whether it helped them to become one of the major political power in Lebanese political spheres. This chapter will be the comprehensive verification and demonstration of the main arguments that will be dealt with in this research, and the last chapter will be the conclusion of this research.

[ 1 ]. Interview with Daniel L. Byman (29 MAY 2008) : Director of Research in the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings Institution
[ 2 ]. United Nations (26 OCT 2005) S/2005/673 Letter to the Security Council
[ 3 ].
[ 4 ]. UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (29 MAR 2006) LEBANON : The many hands and faces of Hizbullah
[ 5 ]. Susan Sachs, New York Times (30 MAR 2000) Helping Hand of Hizbullah Emerging in South Lebanon
[ 6 ]. CNN (25 JUL 2006) Hizbullah's secret weapon
[ 7 ]. Washington Post (20 DEC 2004) Lebanese Wary of a Rising Hizbullah
[ 8 ]. American Chronicle (28 MAR 2010) Iran Massively Rearming Hizbullah in Violation of UN Security Council Resolution, American Chronicle
[ 9 ]. OFFICE OF THE COORDINATOR FOR COUNTERTERRORISM (8 OCT 1999) Background information on foreign terrorist organizations
[ 10 ]. Blanca Madani (7 AUG 2006) Hizbullah's Global Finance Network: The Triple Frontier
[ 11 ]. UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (29 MAR 2006). LEBANON: The many hands and faces of Hizbullah
[ 12 ]. Edward Cody, Molly Moore (14 AUG 2006) The Best Guerrilla Force in the World
[ 13 ]. A.F.K. Organski (1958) World Politics, p.369 ① a dominant state : the one with the largest proportion of power resources ② great powers : a collection of potential rivals to the dominant state ③ middle powers : of regional significance similar to the dominant state, but unable to challenge the dominant state or the system structure ④ small powers : the remainder of nation states which possess little power in their region
[ 14 ]. reason of non-satisfaction varies : historically, ideologically, religiously, territorially, culturally
[ 15 ]. It is true that Iran is recently taking a provocative stance and measures, especially concerning the suspicion of developing a nuclear weapon, the experts do not prospect the possibility of a hot war in the region, at least in the near future.
[ 16 ]. Robert D. Putnam (1988) International Organization, Vol. 42, No.3, p.436 ① Level I : bargaining between the negotiators, leading to a tentative agreement ② Level II : separate discussions within each group of constituents about whether to ratify the agreement or not
[ 17 ]. Robert D. Putnam (1988) International Organization, Vol. 42, No.3, p.450
[ 18 ]. Andrew Moravcsik (1993) Integrating International and Domestic Theories of International Bargaining, p.32 Double-Edged Diplomacy : Interactive Games in International Affairs
[ 19 ]. news article review : CNN, al Jazeeera, An Nahar, Dar Al Hayat
[ 20 ].
[ 21 ].
[ 22 ].…...

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