Some call it a state within a state; a movement that is all too willing to fill any gaps it perceives left open by the government. Hezbollah, with its close ties to Iran, has become very influential in Lebanon -- and though the U.S. government considers them terrorists, they are heroes to their many followers.
Regional powers have long battled for Lebanese territory. For decades, this country of 4 million on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea was simultaneously occupied by both of its more powerful neighbors -- Syria to the east and Israel to the south. Israel withdrew from the occupied south in 2000, ground down by a war of attrition led by Hezbollah. Syria had little choice but to withdraw two years later, after mass public protests called for their troops to pull out.
Today, there is a new vibrancy on the streets of Beirut with new restaurants, businesses and stores opening daily. Still, old insecurities linger. A mysterious string of political assassinations has stopped -- but for how long, no one knows. When outside powers bankroll a particular Lebanese faction, it drives the others to seek the foreign patronage that so often comes with a price. The political system is divvied up by outdated religious quotas. Meanwhile, Palestinian refugee camps around the country remain tinder boxes for an oppressed minority that has lived in Lebanon for generations.
Kristen Gillespie travels to Lebanon to report on the country's changes. "The New Lebanon" is a collection of signature videos, interviews, reporter observations and analysis from the field and blogger perspectives.
The New Lebanon
Worldfocus correspondent Kristen Gillespie looks at Hezbollah's presence in Lebanon's capital city with an overload of billboards, posters and Hezbollah souvenir shops.
Kristen Gillespie is currently reporting from Beirut on an upcoming signature series about life in Lebanon. She recounts life on Hamra Street in Beirut, where cafes and eclectic storefronts mask the past scenes of violent fighting.