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.