Created by Iran in the 1980s as a Shiite fundamentalist militia, Hizballah has in the past decade strengthened its popularity with other Lebanese religious groups. To this end, it has recruited a significant number of Sunni fighters and formed an alliance with the Christian Free Patriotic Movement (FPM). Michal Kranz explains:
As Hizballah has set its sights on cross-sectarian, national-level power as a political party as well as a militant group, support from non-Shiite communities has become an ever more important part of its calculus. It has been able to capitalize on feelings of popular discontent among all of Lebanon’s sects and today enjoys more influence among Christians, Sunnis, and Druze than ever before. . .
[After] the May 2018 parliamentary elections, Hizballah was able to increase significantly its influence among non-Shiite sects in parliament. Not only did the elections that year see Hizballah’s bloc gain seats, but the FPM, still its ally, became the most powerful Lebanese Christian party. In addition, a group of six pro-Hizballah Sunni deputies were elected to parliament, and the traditionally dominant anti-Hizballah Sunni party, the Future Movement led by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, lost a third of its seats. . . .
Hizballah’s outreach to Sunnis may still have a way to go, but . . . Lebanese Christians have embraced and accepted Hizballah to a much greater degree. With FPM founder Michel Aoun’s ascension to the presidency in 2016 and the party’s large gains in 2018, Hizballah’s outreach to the Christian community has yielded real political dividends. . . . Since 2018, Hizballah’s primary Druze ally, the Lebanese Democratic party led by Talal Arslan, has [likewise] been steadily asserting itself in the Druze community, which remains dominated politically by the anti-Hizballah Progressive Socialist party.
Both the cause and the effect of these developments is a situation where Hizballah is not simply a powerful terrorist militia operating within Lebanon but the country’s main source of both power and authority.