The U.S. Senate has passed two bills sanctioning the Iran-back Hezbollah terrorist group.
These bills, once signed by Donald Trump, will put in place sanctions against foreign nationals and companies that provide material support (including money or technology) to the Lebanese Hezbollah and its regional affiliates.
The U.S. believes that by increasing the pressure on Hezbollah, it can reduce the group’s military activities outside of Lebanon, like in Syria.
Phillip Smyth, a researcher at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said: “Hezbollah is clearly facing a number of financial pressures due to the war in Syria.”
Hezbollah has sent thousands of troops to Syria, at the behest of Iran, since the war broke out in 2011, to prop up the Bashar al-Assad dictatorship.
This has helped Assad and his Iranian allies to reclaim Aleppo, Homs and the Damascus suburbs from the Syrian opposition, but has already been costly for the terrorist group, which is losing more and more fighters to the war.
Smyth said: “Further tensions will not be good for the organization. They are not only trying to support their veterans of the Syrian conflict, but also thousands of wounded, [which] costs money and requires proper facilities Hezbollah does not yet have.”
Importantly, it would hurt Hezbollah without putting any pressure on the Lebanese economy, according to Riyad Tabara, a former Lebanese ambassador in Washington, which is good because the US has been providing financial help to Lebanon for decades in an attempt to get the country out from the terrorist group’s grip.
However, Salem Zahran, head of Medic Focal Center, a pro-Hezbollah group based in Beirut, says that these measures will not harm Hezbollah because the terrorist group gets its cash from Iran and Syria – two countries unlikely to abide by US sanctions.
He said: “Tehran and Damascus airports are regularly used to transport cash to Hezbollah and these two countries are strategic allies of Hezbollah that will continue providing financial assistance to the group, even if US sanctions get tougher.”
Sanctions on Iran
The US has also targeted Iran – Hezbollah’s main benefactor – with tough sanctions this year, with more set to kick in on November 4, following Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal.
This included sanctions against Iran’s use of the US dollar or sale of precious metals back in August, while sanctions on their oil industry and central bank are due to be enforced next month.
In August, Trump tweeted: “The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level. Anyone doing business with Iran will not be doing business with the United States.”
Source » ncr-iran