The latest wave of US sanctions has significantly curbed Iran’s ability to fund Hezbollah, The Washington Post reported on Saturday.
The Lebanese terrorist group has traditionally been the best funded Islamic Republic’s proxy, with its fighters and affiliates benefiting from salaries and social services paid for by Tehran.
However, speaking to several Hezbollah officials, the Washington-based newspaper revealed how the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration after the US pulled out from the 2015 nuclear deal a year ago had had a deep impact on the funding.
According to the report, while maintaining expenses that are considered essential – such as salaries to full-time fighters and stipends to families of the militants who died in Syria, where Hezbollah militias have been instrumental in keeping Syrian President Bashar Assad in power – other programs have been slashed or canceled. These programs include extra benefits to militants and their families and the distribution of free medicines and groceries. Moreover, fighters have been pulled out from Syria or assigned to the reserves.
“There is no doubt these sanctions have had a negative impact,” a Hezbollah official told The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity. “But ultimately, sanctions are a component of war, and we are going to confront them in this context.”
The report highlighted that the Hezbollah sources would not reveal any figures of the funding received by Tehran before or after the sanctions, but that according to US Special Envoy Brian Hook, Iran used to send the Lebanese group up to $700 million a year, accounting for 70% of their revenue. It added that the Trump administration has stated that sanctions have decreased Iranian revenue by $10 billion since last November.
“The Iranians are used to sanctions. But this level of sanctions will generate a different response. The Iranians will not be quiet about it,” Kamal Wazne, a Beirut-based political analyst told The Washington Post. The newspaper described him as an analyst holding opinions “sympathetic to the Iranian and Hezbollah point of view.”
“[The sanctions] are a form of war more detrimental than actual war… It’s the slow death of a country, the government and its people,” Wazne added, explaining that the Islamic Republic will be forced to retaliate.
However, the Hezbollah officials who spoke to the American newspaper said that the current financial predicaments are not affecting the group’s ability to fight in the different battlefields, including against Israel.
“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,” the official told The Washington Post, adding that “sanctions won’t last forever,” and they will be “victorious” in the war against Israel as they have been in Syria and Iraq.
Source » jpost