Community Outreach

Posted: July 25, 2006 in Foreign Policy, National Security

Henry Schuster has a new column this week exploring the reasons behind the popular support for Hezbollah within the Lebanese Shiite community.

Schuster sums it all up in one sentence:

People here see Hezbollah as a political movement and a social service provider as much as it is a militia that delivers the goods for its followers, in this traditionally poor and dispossessed Shiite community.

The solidarity with Hezbollah is not limited to purely religious grounds. Schuster reports that a CNN crew found Hezbollah had moved into a school in a Christian neighborhood of Beirut that was being used as a shelter by refugees and were organizing relief efforts.

The Counterterrorism Blog has an entry from its special correspondent on the ground in Beirut reporting that Hezbollah has penetrated Christian areas in Lebanon.

This is as much a failure of fulfilling basic social services by the government as it is a good PR and grassroots outreach and recruitment effort by Hezbollah. Until the Lebanese government and the international community tries to break the goodwill and long standing relationship between Hezbollah and the Lebanese Shiites by offering them other options to Hezbollah, it will continue to be business as usual even after the current crisis is over.

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