U.S. Sanctions Are Hurting Hizbullah

(Washington Institute for Near East Policy) Hanin Ghaddar - Evidence suggests that Hizbullah is facing a serious financial crisis. Its leaders have already implemented harsh new austerity measures, and sources close to the group believe these efforts will become more severe over time. Most of the austerity measures have been enacted in the past few months, with Hizbullah attributing them to U.S. sanctions on Iran, the group's principal patron. As the fighting subsided in much of Syria over the past three months, Hizbullah has brought many of its personnel home, apart from combat troops and logistics forces stationed in the Damascus area, Deir al-Zour, and south Syria. Meanwhile, employees of Hizbullah's media, education, medical, and military systems have complained of deep pay cuts. Fighters and their families are beginning to complain about lost wages as well. Employees in its religious institutions have not been paid in three months. The group has also closed around a thousand offices and apartments throughout Lebanon, merged many of its institutions, and frozen all hiring. Its social services budget has decreased as well. If a new war breaks out with Israel, Tehran might not be able to send trucks full of cash to Lebanon as it did around the time of the 2006 conflict. Tehran is engaged in several expensive endeavors beyond Lebanon, many of which involve Hizbullah personnel. In Syria, their activities are entering a new phase - purchasing large amounts of land, recruiting Sunni men in the south and Deir al-Zour, and establishing social and cultural services to indoctrinate Syrian youths. All of these initiatives require budgetary shifts, and Hizbullah leaders seem intent on making cuts in Lebanon (where they believe the Shia community can afford such sacrifices) in order to build roots in Syria.

2019-03-08 00:00:00

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