Iran’s financial crisis is heavily affecting its terror proxy Hezbollah.
Months of uncertainty ahead the pending sanctions the US imposed on Iran on Monday have already hurt Iran’s economy. The country’s rial currency has tanked, and the downturn has sparked protests across the nation.
The first set of US sanctions against Iran that had been eased under the controversial nuclear accord went back into effect early Tuesday under an executive order signed by US President Donald Trump, targeting financial transactions that involve US dollars, Iran’s automotive sector, the purchase of commercial planes and metals including gold.
US sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sector and central bank are to be reimposed in early November.
The financial crisis in the Islamic Republic has significantly affected its terror proxy, the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror organization.
Gili Cohen, the diplomatic correspondent for the Israeli Public Broadcaster, reported Monday that Hezbollah has been experiencing a severe financial crisis in recent weeks.
One of the signs of this crisis is that Hezbollah has resorted to raising funds locally as it had in the past. The group is also making internal changes to contend with the financial pressure.
Iran has been transferring $1 billion annually to Hezbollah. Due to budget difficulties, this figure was reduced to $800 million in the past year.
The Israeli security establishment estimates that 90 percent of Hezbollah’s funds are provided by Tehran, and this source of revenue is dwindling.
Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah admitted in 2016 that “we are open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, are from the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
Hezbollah is facing vast financial pressure due to its involvement in the civil war in Syria. The terror group has incurred over 2,000 casualties and thousands of wounded in the fighting. The demand for pensions paid out to the families of the casualties and to former fighters has grown exponentially.
Iran Must ‘Behave Like a Normal Country’
The US and Israel hope the reimposed sanctions on Iran will bring about a significant change in the regime’s habits and its conduct in the Middle East, causing Tehran to invest in its citizens, instead of its global terrorist network.
Cohen also reported that the Israeli intelligence community is optimistic about the possibility of reaching a new agreement with the Islamic Republic, to not only address Iran’s nuclear program but also halt its terror activities in the Middle East, inhibit its development of ground-to-ground missiles, and improve its human rights record.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said sanctions are an important pillar in US policy toward Iran and will remain in place until the Iranian government radically changes course.
“They’ve got to behave like a normal country. That’s the ask. It’s pretty simple,” said Pompeo, en route Sunday from a three-nation trip to Southeast Asia.
The US has long designated Iran as the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism, Pompeo noted Sunday, adding that the Islamic Republic cannot expect to be treated as an equal in the international community until it halts such activities.
He said that “there’s no evidence today of a change in their behavior,” and in the meantime “we’re going to enforce the sanctions.”
AP contributed to this report.