Hezbollah’s Diversionary War in Lebanon: Continuity and Change in the Threat Perception


Hezbollah intervened in the civil war in Syria when the Assad regime was under threat of overthrow. Its intervention caused criticism from Lebanese actors and therefore required the organization to find legitimate foundations upon which to base its involvement. Discourse and rhetoric were the first elements that changed following the organization’s decision to intervene. Hezbollah revised its traditional discourse of security, which refers to Israel as the main threat, in 2013 and added an external enemy, the takfiris, which referred to fundamentalist groups in the civil war, as a new threat. However, it returned to its traditional discourse due to the domestic criticisms that followed. This study aims to explain the changing rhetoric of Hezbollah during the civil war in Syria through the frame of the diversionary theory of war. This theory claims that Hezbollah used a diversionary tactic to justify its intervention in the civil war and invented an external enemy as a threat to Lebanese security and territorial integrity.


Hezbollah Syrian Civil War Arab Uprisings Diversionary Theory of War scapegoating external threat.