chapter  10
27 Pages

Hizbollah’s command leadership: Its structure, decision- making, and relationship with Iranian clergy and institutions

ByMAGNUS RANSTORP

Yet the nature of the Iranian-Hizbollah relationship has been far from monolithic but rather bound by both the dynamics of a series of formal and informal networks of personal contacts between Hizbollah (the party of God) and Iranian clergyman. These were initially forged by their shared theological experience in Najaf, Iraq, and grew into close personal friendships which fundamentally shaped the movement’s ideological outlook as well as serve to regulate its past and current behaviour.2 Consequently, the approach of viewing both Hizbollah and Iran as unitary rational actors is not only based on a misconception but also ignores the political reality of the internal dimensions of Lebanon’s civil war. It also disregards the permanent projection of clerical factionalism in Iran onto the Lebanese arena through Hizbollah activity, especially in terms of hostage-taking of foreigners.3 As a militant Islamic organisation, the Hizbollah is far from a uniform body as displayed by continuous clerical factionalism between its leading members over the direction of the movement and the constant readjustments of the movement’s position within Lebanon’s warring factions. In turn, this is infl uenced by the shifting dynamics of the relationship with Iranian clergy and institutions at work within the movement.4 Any closer understanding of the Hizbollah as an organization requires an indepth analysis of the nature and dynamics of Hizbollah’s command leadership balanced against the dynamics of its institutionalized relationship with Iran and, to a lesser extent, Syria.