Recognition dynamics and Lebanese Hezbollah’s role in regional conflicts
in Armed non-state actors and the politics of recognition
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Lebanese Hezbollah is arguably the most powerful armed non-state actor currently active. Founded as an Islamic resistance movement against Israeli occupation in the 1970s and 1980s, Hezbollah is considered a terrorist organisation by several Western states and, since 2016, by the Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council. Since 2015, it is known to have been involved in several armed conflicts in the Middle East, most importantly as a supporter of the Assad regime in the Syrian civil war, but also as a provider of military training for resistance groups in Iraq and Yemen.

At the same time, however, Hezbollah representatives have been part of all Lebanese governments since 2011 and they occupy a number of seats in Parliament. Finally, Hezbollah is also a very active provider of social and welfare services in the Lebanese South and the Beqaa.

For all of the roles it takes, Hezbollah has often been described as a hybrid organisation, which escapes established typologies of both Islamism and terrorism. The chapter, based on the author’s field research in Lebanon, seeks to explore and map the variety of recognition practices that revolve around Hezbollah. It analyses what kind of recognition Hezbollah seeks from different audiences, among them the Lebanese and transnational Shiite community, the Lebanese people, competing political parties in Lebanon, and Western and Middle Eastern states, as well as international organisations. It traces how recognition-granters react to Hezbollah’s claims and what consequences these parallel processes of recognition, non-recognition and mis-recognition have on inner-Lebanese and regional conflict dynamics.

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