Hizballah Is Trying to Take Over the Lebanese Economy

Nov. 29 2018

In March, Hizballah’s leader Hasan Nasrallah declared in a speech that his group, which effectively controls the Lebanese parliament, would begin to focus on reducing government corruption and enacting financial and monetary reforms. Elisheva Simon explains that this was not mere propaganda but signaled a shift away from the longstanding arrangement whereby the terrorist group left the management of the Lebanese economy to its Sunni allies. She writes:

Nasrallah’s [rhetoric may appeal to] many in Lebanon who complain about the corruption that has spread to all sectors of life, especially in government offices and public administration. Yet, . . . since its inception, Hizballah has been a fundamentally corrupt body that has no loyalty to the state and even undermines its foundations. It is a terrorist organization whose main funding comes from a global trade in drugs and arms; it possesses an arsenal of weapons on par with a country; . . . it is engaged in smuggling by land, sea, and air; it is involved in civil wars (in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen), terrorist activity, and the subversion of regimes throughout the Arab world (Bahrain and Saudi Arabia); and it cooperates with crime and drug rings . . . in order to obtain their political support. . . .

Hizballah’s decision to intervene actively in the management of the economic and monetary sectors is evidently another step in [its evolution] from an Islamic organization that views the country as a corrupt and ruthless entity into an organization partnering fully not only with political institutions but also with the economic system and public administration. . . .

Hizballah’s leadership has [also] come to realize that harsher U.S. sanctions pose a serious threat to the revolutionary regime in Tehran. It will become increasingly difficult for the regime to finance the full spectrum of its revolutionary ambitions, including its many “tentacles” in Lebanon and elsewhere. Hizballah therefore has to focus on securing its own sources of funding and providing employment for its members and followers through ever-deeper engagement in Lebanon’s economic and financial spheres of activity.

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More about: Hizballah, Iran sanctions, Lebanon, Politics & Current Affairs


Maintaining Security Cooperation with the PA Shouldn’t Require Ignoring Its Support for Terror

In accordance with legislation passed last year, the Israeli government has begun to deduct from the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) an amount proportional to what the PA pays to terrorists and their families. Last year, a similar law went into effect in the U.S., suspending all payments to the PA so long as it continues its “pay-for-slay” policy. The PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, has retaliated by refusing to accept any tax revenue collected by Israel—raising concerns that the PA will become insolvent and collapse—while insisting that payments to terrorists and their families are sacrosanct. To Yossi Kuperwasser, Abbas’s behavior amounts to mere extortion—which has already worked on the Europeans to the tune of 35 million euros. He urges Israel and the U.S. not to submit:

Abbas [believes] that influential Israeli and European circles, including the security establishment, view strengthening the Palestinian Authority, and certainly preventing its collapse, as being in Israel and Europe’s best interests. They will therefore give in to the pressure he exerts through the creation of an artificial economic crisis. . . .

[T]he PA leadership’s insistence on continuing wage payments to terrorists and their families, even at the price of an artificial economic crisis, shows once again that . . . the Oslo Accords did not reflect a substantive change in Palestinian national aspirations or in the methods employed to achieve them. . . . If paying wages to terrorists (including the many terrorists whose attacks took place after the Oslo Accords were in force) is the raison d’être for the PA’s establishment, as Abbas seems to be saying, . . . one cannot help asking whether Israel has to insist on maintaining the PA’s existence at any price.

True, Israel cooperates on security issues with the PA, but that serves the interests of both sides. . . . The short-term benefits Israel gains from this security cooperation, [however], are of less value than the benefits enjoyed by the Palestinians, and worth even less when measured against the long-term strategic damage resulting from Israel’s resigning itself to the constant incitement, the promotion of terror, and the political struggle against Israel carried out by the PA. Israel should not do anything to hasten the PA’s breakdown, because it has no desire to rule over the Palestinians and run their day to day lives, but it also should not feel more obligated to the PA’s continued existence than do the Palestinians themselves, thereby leaving itself open to continuous extortion.

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More about: Israeli Security, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror