• Monday, September 16, 2019

Trump’s sanctions on Iran are hitting Hezbollah, and it hurts

Discussion in 'Middle East & Africa' started by Arabi, May 27, 2019.

  1. Arabi

    Arabi FULL MEMBER

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    BEIRUT — The powerful Lebanese Hezbollah militia has thrived for decades on generous cash handouts from Iran, spending lavishly on benefits for its fighters, funding social services for its constituents and accumulating a formidable arsenal that has helped make the group a significant regional force, with troops in Syria and Iraq.

    But since President Trump introduced sweeping new restrictions on trade with Iran last year, raising tensions with Tehran that reached a crescendo in recent days, Iran’s ability to finance allies such as Hezbollah has been curtailed. Hezbollah, the best funded and most senior of Tehran’s proxies, has seen a sharp fall in its revenue and is being forced to make draconian cuts to its spending, according to Hezbollah officials, members and supporters.

    Fighters are being furloughed or assigned to the reserves, where they receive lower salaries or no pay at all, said a Hezbollah employee with one of the group’s administrative units. Many of them are being withdrawn from Syria, where the militia has played an instrumental role in fighting on behalf of President Bashar al-Assad and ensuring his survival.

    Programs on Hezbollah’s television station Al-Manar have been canceled and their staff laid off, according to another Hezbollah insider. The once ample spending programs that underpinned the group’s support among Lebanon’s historically impoverished Shiite community have been slashed, including the supply of free medicines and even groceries to fighters, employees and their families.

    The sanctions imposed late last year by Trump after he withdrew from the landmark nuclear deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions are far more draconian than those that helped bring Iran to the negotiating table under the Obama administration, and they are having a profound effect on the Iranian economy, analysts say.

    Trump administration officials claim they have wiped $10 billion from Iranian revenue since November, inflicting widespread misery on the lives of many poor Iranians, as well as the government’s own spending.


    The tensions between Washington and Tehran spiked after further restrictions went into effect on May 2, eliminating waivers from eight countries that had previously been allowed to continue importing Iranian oil with the goal, U.S. officials say, of reducing Iranian oil exports to “zero.”

    Many in the region say the ferocity of the sanctions offers an incentive to Tehran to push back against Washington, crossing a “red line” that will give Iran little choice but to retaliate, according to Kamal Wazne, a Beirut-based political analyst who is sympathetic to the Iranian and Hezbollah point of view.

    “The Iranians are used to sanctions. But this level of sanctions will generate a different response. The Iranians will not be quiet about it,” he said. “They are a form of war more detrimental than actual war. . . . It’s the slow death of a country, the government and its people.”

    Although it is too early to confirm that Iran was responsible for the sabotage attack on four oil tankers near the Persian Gulf in the past week, as U.S. officials claim, “Iran has a major incentive to put the squeeze also on the U.S. economy by making the price of oil jump,” he said. “The pain will be reciprocated.”

    The austerity measures adopted by Hezbollah offer one indication of the breadth of their impact, not only on Iran’s economy but also on its capacity to support its regional proxies.

    A senior Hezbollah official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in accordance with the group’s rules governing interactions with the media, acknowledged that income from Iran has fallen, obliging Hezbollah to cut its expenditures. “There is no doubt these sanctions have had a negative impact,” said the official. “But ultimately, sanctions are a component of war, and we are going to confront them in this context.”

    Hezbollah is also grappling with a separate set of sanctions directed at companies, individuals and banks that do business with the group, which the United States designated as a terrorist organization after suicide bombings and kidnappings aimed at Americans in Lebanon in the 1980s. But Iran sanctions have had the biggest impact on the group’s funding, the official said.

    The official would not say how much Iran has cut its financing for Hezbollah or how big it used to be. U.S. Special Envoy Brian Hook told reporters in Washington in April that Iran in the past has sent Hezbollah up to $700 million a year, accounting for 70 percent of the group’s revenue.

    But Hezbollah has other sources of income and plans aggressively to seek out more, hoping to “turn this threat into an opportunity” to develop new revenue streams, the official said.

    Those Hezbollah officials and full-time fighters who are still on the payroll are receiving their salaries, but benefits for expenses such as meals, gas and transportation have been canceled, according to another Hezbollah insider, who, like all the Hezbollah members and supporters interviewed, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

    The families of Hezbollah’s “martyrs,” those who have died fighting for the militia in Syria and previously in wars with Israel, are also continuing to receive full stipends. The payments are considered sacrosanct and essential if Hezbollah is to sustain its effectiveness as a fighting force, drawing loyal and die-hard recruits, Hezbollah officials say.

    Hezbollah has meanwhile embarked on a major campaign to compensate for the shortfall in Iranian funding by soliciting donations. The drive appears intended to rally supporters behind the group, but it also draws attention to its financial difficulties.

    Since Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah urged followers in a speech in March to contribute to what he called “a jihad of money,” donation boxes have proliferated on the streets of Hezbollah-loyalist areas and beyond, carrying exhortations such as “Charity averts catastrophe.”

    Pickup trucks with loudspeakers tour the streets of Lebanon’s Hezbollah-controlled Dahiya neighborhood, south of Beirut, with plastic boxes on their hoods, into which people are encouraged to deposit cash. Billboards have been erected along the road to the airport urging citizens to contribute to Hezbollah-run charities, and videos posted on the pages of Hezbollah-affiliated social media sites remind citizens of their “religious duty” to contribute to needy people.

    The Hezbollah official insisted that the cutbacks have had no impact on the group’s standing in the Middle East or its military preparedness.



    “We are still getting arms from Iran. We are still ready to confront Israel. Our role in Iraq and Syria remains. There is no person in Hezbollah who left because they didn’t get their salary, and the social services have not stopped,” he said.

    The sanctions “won’t last forever,” he predicted. “Just as we were able to win militarily in Syria and Iraq, we will be victorious in this war, too.”

    But Hezbollah is suffering, at least indirectly, from the separate sanctions aimed at the group’s activities, analysts say. Hezbollah has for years solicited donations from wealthy business executives, in Lebanon and abroad, but the sanctions serve as a deterrent to them, said Hanin Ghaddar, who researches Hezbollah at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

    The sanctions also deter companies and government agencies from doing business with the expansive network of Hezbollah companies and contractors that has arisen in tandem with the group’s political and military apparatus, according to Sami Nader, director of the Levant Institute for Strategic Affairs.

    The cutbacks in Iranian contributions further coincide with a sharp downturn in the Lebanese economy. The recession is afflicting an extensive network of Hezbollah-affiliated companies whose activities help support the group, and Hezbollah’s ordinary Lebanese constituents, whose incomes and businesses are suffering.

    Although the sanctions appear to be working from the U.S. point of view, there is growing concern that the pain being inflicted on ordinary people, including within Iran, will further destabilize the already violence-racked region, heighten anti-American sentiments and increase pressure on Iran to retaliate.

    “The issue today is: What will be the price of continuing the sanctions and what will the collateral damage be?” Nader said. “There will be a lot of instability and hardship, and there could even be a new conflict.”

    Hezbollah’s strategy is to identify alternative sources of income while riding out the Trump administration’s anti-Iran campaign, said Mohammed Obeid, a Beirut-based political analyst who is close to the group. Hezbollah recognizes that Trump may be in office until 2024 and is taking a long-term view, seeking out extra sources of revenue while reviving former ones, he said.

    In the meantime, Iran will also try to secure new sources of funding. “Iran will go back to their old ways from before the [nuclear] accord, to the black market,” he said. “They have many alternatives for smuggling oil, through Iraq, through Pakistan, through Oman, through Afghanistan and even through Dubai.”

    For Hezbollah, it is nonetheless a sobering moment after a string of successes.

    Founded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps in the 1980s as a shadowy guerrilla force dedicated to ejecting the Israeli troops who were then occupying Lebanon, Hezbollah has become the prototype for Iran’s subsequent proxy forces in the region. Its affiliate, Islamic Jihad, drove Americans out of much of Beirut by conducting suicide attacks against the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks and kidnapping American citizens, a model Iran might now follow elsewhere in the Middle East.

    Hezbollah has since expanded to become a major regional power — with too much to lose by provoking conflict in Lebanon, many analysts say.

    If a regional conflict were to erupt, Hezbollah could become one of Iran’s most feared assets, with its stockpile of tens of thousands of rockets and its highly disciplined fighting force extending Iran’s reach to the shores of the Mediterranean and to the borders of its arch enemy, Israel.

    The group is also now the single most influential force in Lebanese politics, with seats in the parliament and ministries in the cabinet.

    All the while, Hezbollah has relied overwhelmingly on Iranian largesse. In a speech in 2016 seeking to dispel concerns that the war in Syria would bleed Hezbollah’s revenue, Nasrallah assured his followers that Hezbollah had secured “all” of its funding from Iran.

    “As long as Iran has money, we have money,” he said.

    WashingtonPost


    Sanctions are working as it should be and that's why we see the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists suffering and relying on donations from ordinary people.
     
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  2. Fahad Khan 2

    Fahad Khan 2 FULL MEMBER

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    They should collect Tax.
     
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  3. Arabi

    Arabi FULL MEMBER

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    Hezbollah terrorists send "begging vehicles" with boxes on it to get donations from locals.


     
  4. Fahad Khan 2

    Fahad Khan 2 FULL MEMBER

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    Man these kind of organization do collect donation from people. Even if iran send money or not.
     
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  5. Crystal-Clear

    Crystal-Clear SENIOR MEMBER

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    iran lost most of the support when she support shias in Sunni majority countries .
    .
    .
    who will mourns when iranian get bombed?
     
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  6. Clutch

    Clutch ELITE MEMBER

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    This is awesome. Hezbollah is a terror outfit that has taken Lebanon hostage.

    They try to play a populist position... But they are a shia supremacist hate group.
     
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  7. Wilhelm II

    Wilhelm II FULL MEMBER

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    Hizbulshaytan
     
  8. Ziggurat “TepeSialk“

    Ziggurat “TepeSialk“ BANNED

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    Hezbollah is a proud movement who saved Lebanon in 2006 against israeli invasion and from many possible civil conflicts while your regime openly supported israel against Lebanon to take south of Lebanon.

    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190216-saudi-supported-israel-against-hezbollah-during-2006-war/

    Since saudi (al-Qaeda) american fake 9/11 over 60% of suicider bombers in Iraq are Saudis.

    Suicide bombers in Iraq are mostly Saudis

    Suicide bombers in Iraq are overwhelmingly foreigners bent on destabilizing the government and undermining American interests there, two independent studies have concluded.

    The studies report that the number of suicide bombings in Iraq has now surpassed those conducted worldwide since the early 1980s. The findings suggest that extremists from throughout the region and around the world are fueling Iraq's violence.

    "The war on terrorism — and certainly the war in Iraq — has failed in decreasing the number of suicide attacks and has really radicalized the Muslim world to create this concept of martyrs without borders," said Mohammed Hafez, a visiting professor at the University of Missouri in Kansas City and the author of one of the two studies.

    Hafez, whose new book is "Suicide Bombers in Iraq," has identified the nationalities of 124 bombers who attacked in Iraq. Of those, the largest number — 53 — were Saudis. Eight apiece came from Italy and Syria, seven from Kuwait, four from Jordan and two each from Belgium, France and Spain. Others came from North and East Africa, South Asia and various Middle Eastern and European countries. Only 18 — 15 percent — were Iraqis.

    In the second study, Robert Pape, a University of Chicago professor who runs the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism, identified the nationalities of 55 suicide bombers in Iraq. Sixteen were Saudis, seven were Syrians and five were Algerians. Kuwait, Morocco and Tunisia each supplied three bombers. Thirteen — 24 percent — were Iraqi Sunni Muslims.

    Hafez and Pape said Iraqi Shiite Muslims hadn't carried out suicide attacks so far and instead had restricted their role in the sectarian violence to militia activity.

    Pinning down the nationalities of suicide bombers can be tricky because they leave few physical remains, and extremist groups often don't claim the attacks until much later. The U.S. military says it does some DNA testing to investigate the bombers' identities.

    Both researchers relied on extremist Web sites, "martyr" videos, news reports and statements to compile the data on nationalities. Hafez also gathered some information from online chats and discussion forums.

    U.S. intelligence estimates based on interviews with detainees and captured documents indicate that most suicide bombers in Iraq are non-Iraqi, said a senior defense official who can't be named because of departmental rules

    Suicide attacks more than doubled each year from the U.S.-led invasion in 2003 to 2005, Pape said. In 2006, he said, they jumped just under a third. The American military has reported more than 1,400 since January 2004. Before the U.S.-led invasion, there had been no suicide bombings in Iraq.

    Pape attributed the attacks to the presence of some 150,000 American troops in the region.

    The notion that most of the suicide bombers are foreigners engaged in a global movement is exaggerated, he said, since about 75 percent come from the Arabian Peninsula, which is close to the U.S. forces in Iraq.

    "The Arabian Peninsula isn't that big: It's somewhat bigger than Texas," Pape said. "The Americans have all the capability and are right there. That's what allows terrorist leaders to build a sense of urgency."

    After losing safe havens in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Europe, militant organizations needed a new base for their operations, Hafez said. U.S. intelligence analysts, however, have concluded that al Qaida has built new training camps along the Afghan-Pakistani border, and that the group al Qaida in Iraq operates for the most part independently.

    According to Hafez, extremist groups in Iraq conduct suicide bombings against fellow Muslims rather than U.S. troops to destabilize the fledgling government and spark sectarian warfare.

    The groups' objectives in Iraq are different from "other places like in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict or in Lebanon," he said.

    In Lebanon, Shiite suicide bombers helped drive U.S., British, French, Italian and Israeli troops out of the country with a series of attacks. Sunni Palestinian suicide bombers have attacked in Israel and the Palestinian territories in an effort to loosen Israel's grip on what they say are Arab lands.

    There's widespread agreement that Saudis are represented more heavily than any other nationalityamong the bombers, said Assaf Moghadem, a research fellow at Harvard University who studies suicide bombers' motivations. Insurgent groups sometimes recruit Saudis because of their relative prosperity, he said.

    The ultra-conservative brand of Sunni Islam that's prevalent in Saudi Arabia also accounts for the large number of Saudis who participate in suicide bombings and the insurgency in Iraq, said Mike Davis, a University of California at Irvine professor who wrote a recent history of car bombs.

    "The religious current in modern Islam that encourages this kind of sectarian attitude toward the Shiites is the religious orthodoxy enshrined in Saudi Arabia," Davis said.

    https://www.mcclatchydc.com/news/nation-world/world/article24467953.html
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2019
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  9. sammuel

    sammuel FULL MEMBER

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    Actually without Hezbollah there would have been no 2006 Lebanon war. As Hezbollah is the reason Israel entered Lebanon .After they , Without provocation , abducted and killed three of our soldiers and started firing rockets at our civilians.

    Israel has no interest or dispute with Lebanon .The only reason for us to enter their is if Hezbollah starts making trouble ( usually under the orders of Iran )

    We were never attacked by Lebanon army ...


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_Lebanon_War
     
  10. Ziggurat “TepeSialk“

    Ziggurat “TepeSialk“ BANNED

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    Hezbollah alone in 2000 kicked bastard zionist regime out of Lebanon.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Israeli_occupation_of_Southern_Lebanon

    https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Israeli–Lebanese_conflict
     
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  11. zartosht

    zartosht FULL MEMBER

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    I keep hearing propaganda about Hezbollah being starved, not having this, Israel bombing that or what not.

    Hezbollah is Irans air craft carrier in the medeterrinian. they play a big role in Iranian national security, and as an investment provide huge bang for the buck..

    even if Iran supposedly sends them 200m/year (the maximum cited by anti-iran coalition) that is peanuts when put into perspective of a defensive budget. YOu spend more then that in a day if war breaks out.

    Imagine Hezbollah as an elite/entrenched IRGC division dug in into northern Israel. and you begin to appreciate what a valuable ally they are. The mullahs in Iran control many off the books charities bonyad worth unknown billions. they can easily fund Hezbollah if need be with loose change in their pockets.

    but don't let reality get in the way of Zionist/wahabi wet dreams
     
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