Today the President of Iran Mahmoud Ahamadinejad visited southern Lebanon, where he praised Hezbollah and for there activates. He gave a fiery speech in the border town of Bint Jbail, which was damaged by the 2006 war with Israel. Iran funded a lot the rebuilding in southern Lebanon after the 2006 war. Hezbollah gained a lot of creditability after the 2006 war, and bridged the sectarian gap, in terms of support.
So how did this relationship between Iran and Southern Lebanon develop? It initially began during the regime of Ismail I in the Safavid Empire (out of all the empires in the world, I have grown to have an affinity towards the Safavids.) Ismail pretty much forced everyone to become Shia, from what I can remember there were some Ismailis in Persia (strangely enough a lot of the Muslims in Tanzania and Zanzibar are Ismaili, I know there are a lot of Ismaili’s in India and Zanzibar was a huge port city back in day so that might have influenced it.) Back to the Safavids, Ismail I imported Shia Scholars from Lebanon, which was the hub for shiism at that time. I would love to do more research on how that relationship was kept alive and now has come to the point where Iran is now helping Lebanon rebuild and offering military aid, its interesting to see how things have reversed. The founders of Hezbollah were inspired by Ayatollah Khomeini, which began in the late 80s as a response to Israel’s presence in Southern Lebanon. Hezbollah now has turned into a social service provider, funding hospitals and schools and also functions as a paramilitary group. I was kind of disappointed that Ahamadinejad decided not to throw that rock. I’m not sure why but that reminded me of Kruschev and his shoe-banging incident, maybe because both incidents are so absurd.