Lebanon’s Shi’as: A Long March out of the Shadows

While Hezbollah again hit the headlines during the summer, its historical roots are less familiar. Andrew Arsan traces the political emergence of the Shi’a community in Lebanon.

On the morning of July 12th 2006, a group of Hezbollah fighters stole across the border between Lebanon and Israel and, after engaging in a firefight with an Israeli patrol, abducted two soldiers. This incident marked the outbreak of a month-long conflict which pitted Israel against Hezbollah, while the Lebanese government stood by, helplessly watching on as much of its country’s infrastructure was destroyed. The war, while costing many lives on both sides of the border, has also ensured renewed interest in Hezbollah, and the Shi’a of Lebanon. Never before has a clear understanding of the history of this community seemed more important.

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