Fighting Hizballah Should Be on the U.S. Anti-Corruption Agenda

In 2021, the Biden administration announced that countering corruption abroad should be considered a “core United States national-security interest,” and mobilized a variety of government resources to advance this agenda. Emanuele Ottolenghi finds this initiative laudable, but takes the White House to task for failing to connect it to the fight on terrorism and on the international drug trade, all of which are inextricably linked. Nowhere is this nexus more evident than in the activities of Hizballah:

Outside of Lebanon, Hizballah buys impunity from local scrutiny and prosecution for its illicit networks through bribery and corruption at the highest levels of government and local public administration. In Lebanon, it uses its influence and political power to buy impunity—through bribes—for those running illicit businesses. Such extensive corruption contributes to the erosion of good governance, weakens democratic institutions, undermines the rule of law, and empowers corrupt officials and politicians.

Corruption, then, is a critical tool in Hizballah’s strategy of funding itself through illicit activities, which has been underscored by previous Treasury Department designations against Hizballah operations in the Gambia, Guinea, and Paraguay. Since it is also a top foreign-policy priority for the Biden White House, the president should recognize that corruption is an integral element of Hizballah’s modus operandi, and target, through [sanctions], both sides of the corruption equation.

The crime-terror finance nexus is nothing new. Across the span of history and geography, terrorism has been self-financed, at least in part, through criminal activities. The Bolsheviks in tsarist Russia funded their subversive activities through crime—which catapulted a young Joseph Stalin to center stage in the party machine. More recently, Ireland’s Irish Republican Army, the Italian Red Brigades, the Basque ETA, Colombia’s FARC, the Taliban, al-Qaeda, and Islamic State all engaged in criminal activities to fundraise—including the illicit drug trade, human trafficking and organ harvesting, and trafficking in antiquities. Hizballah continues to be involved in a multiplicity of criminal activities, including, critically, money laundering on behalf of international criminal syndicates.

Read more at FDD

More about: Crime, Drugs, Hizballah, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy