Since 1982, Hezbollah has embodied Iran’s grand strategy to create a network of proxy forces across the Middle East, both to expand Tehran’s sphere of influence and promote its security interests and Islamic ideology. The Shiite movement took root after Israel’s 1982 invasion and amid the chaos of the Lebanese civil war, which had raged since 1975.
Lebanon’s main Islamist party has undergone a profound transformation over the past four decades. Once associated with suicide bombings and hostage-taking, Hezbollah has steadily evolved from an underground movement in 1982 to the dominant political player in Lebanon in 2023. Yet even though Hezbollah is strong militarily and politically, it also faces greater challenges than ever before. They range from the party’s massive expansion since 2006 to the domestic discontent over its refusal to abandon its weapons and the growing disenchantment within its Shiite base.
Since its creation in December 1987, Hamas has invoked militant interpretations of Islam to spearhead a Sunni extremist movement committed to destroying Israel. Hamas distanced itself from the longstanding Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)—an umbrella organization for disparate Palestinian factions that ranged from Marxist to secular nationalists—by propagating resistance in the religious context of jihad, or a holy struggle and martyrdom.
On October 18, the United States sanctioned 11 people, eight entities and one vessel linked to Iran’s ballistic missile and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) programs. They were based in Iran, Hong Kong, China and Venezuela and had materially supported the Revolutionary Guards, the defense ministry, or their subordinates. The move coincided with the expiration of U.N. restrictions on Iran’s missile program as part of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which enshrined the 2015 nuclear deal.
On Sept. 20, 2023, Iran’s parliament passed a controversial bill that would increase penalties for women not adhering to the rigid Islamic dress code. The law equated refusing to wear hijab—either in public or virtually—as “nudity.” It mandated stiff fines and prison sentences up to a decade for violators. It also penalizes Iranians, including businesses or restaurants, who promote or allow immoral behavior, such as improper dress.
On September 15, President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged support to Iranians defending human rights on the one-year anniversary of the death of Mahsa Amini, who died in police detention for alleged “improper” hijab. The following are statements by Biden and Blinken.
On September 12, four experts assessed the impact of the protest movement in Iran one year later. They also explored the state of Iranian politics, including the simmering internal flashpoints as well as the government’s response. The experts also analyzed Iran’s problems with the outside world, including the United States, on the eve of President Ebrahim Raisi’s trip to the United States for the U.N. General Assembly. The speakers were:
Iran’s leaders blasted the United States in defiant speeches commemorating the anniversary of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s death in 1989. In a televised speech on June 4, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei – Khomeini’s successor – warned that Western powers were trying to infiltrate the country and undermine the Islamic Republic. He alleged that the nationwide protests that that erupted in September 2022 over the death of Mahsa Amini were planned in “think tanks of Western countries.” Khamenei also blamed “traitors and mercenaries” for the “riots.”