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Sanctions Work! US Pinch on Iran is Hurting Hezbollah

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Supporters of the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah (Photo; STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)
Supporters of the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah (Photo; STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)

Sanctions work! That is the conclusion of a report by Al Arabiya, which details how the terror group Hezbollah has been forced to significantly curtail its expenditures and activities due to decreased support from Iran, which has been hit hart by American sanctions.

Iran has been forced to cut back from its yearly $700 million stipend to Hezbollah. Although the report did not mention the exact amount of the decrease, it did specify how this reduction is being felt by the terror group in real time:

  • Hezbollah’s active fighters have only received half of their normal salaries for the past three months. In the past, salaries – which ranged from $800-1,200 per month – were doled out like clockwork.
  • The salaries of Hezbollah’s reserve fighters have also been cut in half, from $800 to $400 per month.
  • Benefits which the group has traditionally given to the wives and children of active and reserve fighters have been reduced. Although these benefits were not specified, in the past they have included free transportation within Lebanon and housing.
  • Hezbollah recently asked active fighters, who together inhabit about 1,000 apartments paid for by Iran in the al-Dahieh‎ al-Janubiya neighborhood in Beirut — the stronghold of the organization – to clear out from the apartments due to the fact that Iran can no longer pay the rent.
  • In the city of in Baalbek, located in eastern Lebanon, a number of Hezbollah’s social institutions that provide to the fighters and their families were shut down due to lack of funds. These services have traditionally included health care providers, schools, and activities (soccer teams, etc.) for children.

Hardest hit by the sanctions is the pension fund Hezbollah established for its fighters who serve 25 years or more in the organization. This program, in which each fighter received $600 per month, has been cancelled altogether by Hezbollah’s leader Hassan Nasrallah.

In order to prevent dissent in the organization, all retired fighters were summoned and told they needed to continue working for the organization in administrative capacities to receive their “pension.”

In addition, after an investigation uncovered administrative corruption in the organization, Hezbollah appointed a new crop of younger members to serve in high-ranking positions, including the “Jihadi Council” (the highest military authority in the organization), to help the organization cope with their new economic reality.

Earlier this year, Nasrallah initiated a drive among the general public in Lebanon to raise funds and create solidarity with Hezbollah, promising them that their donations will be counted as active jihad.

Whereas individual donations from within Lebanon have remained steady – about 2,000,000 Lebanese pounds ($1,325) daily — to support Hezbollah, a huge change in donations has occurred within the business sector who, in the past, had openly donated large sums to Hezbollah.

Due to American sanctions, these donations, which must now be made secretly and in roundabout methods, have significantly decreased, threatening Hezbollah’s abilities in the coming years to conduct its current level of terror activities.

Hezbollah leaders are hoping that with patience they can weather their financial storm and that when U.S. President Trump leaves the White House, good times will return again for terror in the Middle East and beyond.

 

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Ran Meir

Ran Meir is Clarion Project's Arab affairs analyst and a Shillman Fellow. He can be reached at [email protected]