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Hizbullah replaced the "Lebanese Resistance" slogan with the "Islamic Resistance"

By Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
web posted April 8, 2024

The war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza and the active participation of Hizbullah in the conflict with Israel in Lebanon has produced a significant change in the language used by Hizbullah to define its positions vis-à-vis Israel. One significant change is replacing the national slogan that characterized Hizbullah since its establishment in 1982 with an Islamic slogan, as observed in all the Hizbullah-related media. Hizbullah mouthpieces now state that the actions perpetrated against Israel are conducted by the "Islamic Resistance," a clear departure from what was defined in the past as a "Lebanese resistance" or simply "the Resistance" against Israeli occupation of Lebanese territory. 

The use of the term "Islamic Resistance" is not coincidental. "Amal," the second most important Shiite militia and political formation in Lebanon, has had since its establishment an acronym for the" regiments of the Lebanese Resistance (in Arabic Afwaj al-Muqawama al-Lubnaniyyah.) The acronym has not changed, whereas Hizbullah has adopted a new signature which represents an ideological change since it no longer defines itself as a "Lebanese resistance" but rather an "Islamic Resistance."

To clarify and understand the difference between the two slogans, one must look to "Hamas," a Sunni terrorist organization whose name represents the acronym of the Movement of the Islamic Resistance – "Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya"– an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. This new self-identification has been copied by Hizbullah, a Shiite organization that has fought against jihadist Sunni militias and factions since it intervened in the Syrian civil war. Hizbullah has adopted the "Islamic" formulation that was particular to Hamas and other jihadist factions. 

The reasons behind the change in the Hizbullah slogan are obvious. The war between Israel and Hamas has illustrated the dramatic change in the frontline militias facing Israel. Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and other Lebanese and foreign (Iraqi, Pakistani, and Afghani factions fighting Israel have become full-fledged Iranian proxies, receiving Iranian funding, training, sophisticated equipment, and, most importantly, Tehran's instructions on their confrontation with Israel. 

The metamorphosis of Hizbullah from "Lebanese resistance" to "Islamic Resistance" did not happen overnight. It is the result of a long process initiated by Tehran with the active assistance of Hizbullah in Lebanon. The adoption of the Islamic slogan is meant to be ecumenical and symbolizes more than anything that the war against Israel is not only an effort led by Iran but also by Sunni factions which have rallied under the banner of Hizbullah in the war against "the heretics," the usurper," or the so-called "occupation state" (the Dawlat al-Ihtilal).  It is no longer a war for the recovery of lost territory; it is, in fact, a holy war, an annihilation war, an Islamic war against a foreign heretic presence, comparable to when Arab troops led by a Kurdish-born commander named Saladin (Salah ad-Din, 1137-1193) defeated the Crusaders who had established themselves in the Holy Land for more than a century. 

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It is noteworthy to underline that in its beginnings as an Islamic Republic, Iran tried to rally the Sunni Arab states under a pan-Islamic ideology, which proved to be a failure. The recent return of this formula is having more success because the fighting Palestinian terrorist factions are almost totally dependent on Iranian assistance. Both Hamas and PIJ received money and weapons to build a solid power base able to sustain attacks from Israel. In addition, Hamas and PIJ sent trainees to Lebanon, Syria, and Iran, where they trained in the production of sophisticated weaponry.

Finally, fighting under the banner of the "Islamic Resistance" is the materialization of the Qassem Suleimani vision of unification of all fronts (Sunni and Shia) to encircle Israel and create a choking belt that would undermine the existence of the Hebrew state. 

As for the Lebanese government and the Christian and Sunni establishment, the developments in the southern part of the country and the fact that Hizbullah is waging an Islamic Resistance war against Israel proves once again the failure of the Lebanese state to exercise its authority in the chaotic situation that has been created by Hizbullah's alliance since October 8, 2023, when its leader decided to join the war effort against Israel.  ESR

Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, a special analyst for the Middle East at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence.


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