Sunday, June 26, 2016

26-Jun-16: Confirmed: How US actions emboldened and empower the terrorists of Hezbollah

The foreign ministers of the Islamic Republic of Iran
and the United States of America, together at a gathering
in Oslo eleven days ago [Image Source]
In a public speech broadcast on Friday and reported the following day, ["In first, Hezbollah confirms all financial support comes from Iran", Al Arabiya, June 25, 2016], the supreme head of the Lebanon-based terror organization Hezbollah made several revelations that ought to have an impact on how the world views the Iranian menace.

Figuring out who the terrorists are and what to do about them is, as we keep saying here, not such a straightforward thing. 

Hezbollah illustrates the point: it is formally classified as a terrorist organization by the Arab League, all the monarchic Gulf states (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates), United States, France, Australia, Canada, Netherlands, and Israel. 

On the other hand, the European Union, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have decided they view only its so-called military wing as terrorist; the rest of they are presumably OK with. Russia says Hezbollah is legitimate and China "remains neutral" [source; Wikipedia]. 

It's hard not to be deeply cynical about how diplomats and politicians, aware and informed of what the terrorists are doing with their improbably vast arsenal - currently estimated at  an astounding 150,000 rockets and ramping up - play games with people's lives.

Key points made in Hassan Nasrallah's Friday speech:
  • All its funding and all its arms come from the Islamic Republic of Iran...
  • And therefore US and other Hezbollah-directed sanctions will have no impact. 
  • "We are open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, come from the Islamic Republic of Iran..."
  • "As long as Iran has money, we have money..." 
  • "Just as we receive the rockets that we use to threaten Israel, we are receiving our money. No law will prevent us from receiving it."
This is startling in its bluntness. (As far as we know, no one from the White House or the State Department has responded to it yet.) 

The Al Arabiya report reminds us that Iran was instrumental in creating Hezbollah - oriented, like Iran, to the Shi'ite strand of Islam - 1982. Iran’s financial, military, intelligence, logistical and advisory help to Hezbollah has "well known" in the years since. Iran's Revolutionary Guard along with its Quds "elite" force transformed Hezbollah to become one of Iran’s most important and powerful regional and international proxies. 

So now we have public confirmation from an unimpeachable source that Hezbollah terror is fully funded, fully enabled and fully equipped by the money and the arsenal of Iran. As the principal beneficiary of Iran's tender attentions, there's no room for doubt on the matter. For perfectly understandable Arab/Iran reasons, Al Arabiya makes some effort to clarify how the actions of the current United States administration play into this Iran/Hezbollah reality. 

An American law, the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act, went into effect on December 18, 2015. It ambitiously targets banks and financial institutions that facilitate money transactions for Hezbollah. Its existence is probably one of the factors that brought the Hezbollah fuehrer to make his speech.

But the reality is that a very different US foreign policy initiative, the JCPOA is achieving pretty much the exact opposite effect. In the words of the Al Arabiya article
the US is now seemingly playing a critical role in assisting and facilitating the ways through which Hezbollah receives this significant aid from the Iranian government. The Obama administration and Hassan Rouhani ’s government were two key players in getting the nuclear agreement signed. When the nuclear terms started being implemented, the Obama administration began immediately transferring billions of dollars to Iran's Central Bank. One of the payments included 1.7 billion dollars transferred, in January 2015. Two of the major primary beneficiaries of these sanctions reliefs and flow of money are Hezbollah and the IRGC. Iran also immediately increased its military budget by $1.5 billion... Nasrallah’s speech also indicates that the US money transfer to Iran’s bank and the sanctions reliefs appear to have empowered and emboldened both the Iranian government and the Hezbollah leader… Thanks to Washington, the money that Iran is receiving from the US or the market is again going on its way to Hezbollah, the major benefactor.
If you're not deeply concerned about what this means and how it happened, you might not understand what terrorism does to civilized societies. And if you think it's a problem that impacts only Israel, you might not understand the Iranian game-plan. Here's a little suggested homework:

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