See this page for links to articles on OpEdNEws that articulate both sides on the issues in the middle east. It is the goal of OpEdNews to air opinions from both sides to stretch the envelope of discussion and communication. Hate statements are not accepted. Discussions of issues and new ideas for solutions are encouraged. .On the one hand, Hezbollah is the most dangerous form of alliance; Shia religious ideologues, armed to the teeth, with a zealous hatred of their neighbors in Israel. They are supported by both Syria and Iran which arm them, fund their operations, train them and spew out evil language in all forms of media.
Because Hezbollah is not a nation or state, it is unregulated by norms, unencumbered by conventions, responsibilities and treaties; and that makes Hezbollah particularly dangerous and troubling.
On the other hand, one might easily confuse the terror organization Hezbollah ("Party of God") for a nation; as Hezbollah has many of the attributes of a nation and none of the responsibilities.
Hezbollah controls its own media, including a TV station al-Manar ("The Beacon"), runs hotels and restaurants, and operates the economy of southern Lebanon. Hezbollah provides social services that the government of Lebanon cannot afford to supply. It runs its own schools, elderly centers, clinics, hospitals and libraries.
Although experts say the armed fighting force of Hezbollah probably numbers only about 2,000 men, Hezbollah controls some 25% of the Lebanese land mass and almost half a million people. But Hezbollah is primarily a Shiite society with the worst form of extremist beliefs and anti-Semitic rhetoric.
Hezbollah has also become a political force in Lebanon, with 14 delegates in the 128-seat national assembly. But its influence is far greater than the numbers suggest.
Hezbollah owns southern Lebanon and is the law in that region near Israel.
"They have veto power on the decision-making process and practically today nothing can be done in Lebanon officially without Hezbollah sanctioning it," said Hisham Melhem of the An Nahar newspaper in Beirut.
Israel's incursion into Hezbollah's territory, with the consequent loss of innocent Moslem civilians, can only swell Hezbollah's new class of recruits. Extremists from other nations can also be expected to join the fight on the side of Hezbollah, as they have in Iraq, especially now that Al Qaida has called for a "Holy War."
Former Georgetown instructor Ashraf Ismail, writing in the Arab News on July 27, said, "While Hezbollah will obviously pay a short-term tactical cost that is very high, in the long run, this conflict demonstrates that it is Hezbollah, and not the Lebanese government, that has the most power in Lebanon."
Ayman al-Zawahri, second in command to Osama bin Laden, said al-Qaida now sees "all the world as a battlefield open in front of us." The terrorist leader also said, "this is a jihad for God's sake and will last until our religion prevails." And last week Ayatollah Ali Sistani issued a powerful "fatwa" (religious opinion) condemning the attacks on Lebanese civilians and infrastructure and calling on all Shiite clerics to take action.
This outside encouragement and fire-brand language contributes to the red-hot extremism and border-line martyrdom outlook of Hezbollah followers.
Two characteristics make Hezbollah very different, in fact unique in the history of stateless terror groups to date: use of medium range missiles and the professionalism of its fighting forces. When did any group but a nation have Chinese-made C-802 "Silkworm" missiles capable of hitting an Israeli warship? When did a terror group launch thousands of rockets into a neighboring sovereign nation?
Yet Hezbollah practically invented many of the terror tactics we see in Iraq today; like the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) which Hezbollah first used during Israel's occupation of Lebanon and now has become a daily threat to U.S., coalition forces and civilians in Iraq..
Hezbollah's fighting force is much more professional than other "armed militia." Retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales Jr., said, "in terms of enemy combatants, the most military competent enemy combatant is Hezbollah."
"Few nations want to confront Hezbollah because the terrorist group has an unquenchable lust for martyrdom fueled by a radical Islamic ideology," said retired Army Lt. Col. Robert Maginnis, a military analyst.
Hezbollah's fighters are respected by their adversaries and admired by like-thinking Arabs. A typical letter writer to Lebanon's An-Nahar Newspaper said, "Hizbullah fighters are heroes defending Lebanon, the only ones for that matter. Where the hell is the army?"
How else is Hezbollah more like a "state" than a terror group? According to Israel's Dr. Boaz Ganor, the deputy dean of the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy and the founder of the Institute for Counter Terrorism in Israel said, "The Hizbullah has succeeded in creating a situation in which it deters Israel more than Israel deters it. It is unprecedented for a terrorist organization to deter a state and not vice versa."