Why Iran's Cash Crunch Isn't Disabling Hizbullah Yet

(The Federalist) Todd Bensman - Iran's global battering ram, the U.S.-designated terrorist group Lebanese Hizbullah, has entered such dire financial straits that it can no longer supply free groceries to its employees and beseeches the people to fill donation boxes. So said The Washington Post and The New York Times. Hizbullah is not on the ropes. As Iran's global tool of retribution and coercion, and battle-hardened from years of fighting in Syria, it remains a highly dangerous threat to the United States and its allies. Left unsaid by both the Post and the Times is that Hizbullah achieved significant financial autonomy from Iran more than a decade ago. How? Starting in about 2006, it moved into Latin America and hit it very big in the international cocaine trafficking industry. Experts point out that while Iran was providing Hizbullah up to $200 million per year, our own Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and Treasury Department said just one Hizbullah smuggling ring in Central America generated more than $200 million every month. Hizbullah's trafficking and globally circuitous money-laundering operations are extensive now, well-reported and notorious in 10 countries across Latin America. Former U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman, in an analysis for Brookings, noted that Hizbullah is Iran's "force-multiplier" to carry out its coercive diplomatic agenda. Late salaries to social service employees and delayed payments to suppliers may be interpreted as signs that U.S. sanctions are taking a toll. But, he writes, the organization remains "revolutionary Iran's most successful export and one of its primary tools for deadly mischief regionally and internationally."

2019-05-28 00:00:00

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