Chance to curb Hezbollah? –Electronic International Relations

Hezbollah’s reputation has declined since the street protests began in October 2019. It opposes the protest movement, which supports citizens of all religions to get angry throughout the political arena, and some of its supporters beat the protesters, and the Hezbollah aura has fallen. The recent corruption incident also illustrates the modern nature of the party, which is now deeply rooted in Lebanese politics, thus creating a group of politicians and employees who have evacuated Shia voters. In addition to these difficulties, Lebanon is also on the verge of economic collapse. Since October, the currency has depreciated by more than 60%, leading to a rise in basic import prices, and since September, the unemployment rate is estimated to have reached 17%. The huge fiscal deficit accumulated since the end of the civil war means that Lebanon has the world’s third highest debt-to-GDP ratio. For the first time in the country’s history, it failed to pay the US$1.2 billion of European bonds due on March 9. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that the Lebanese economy would contract by 12% in 2020.

The national blockade began on March 15. In order to prevent the spread of Covid-19, it has exacerbated the downward spiral and almost stopped all economic activities. People's dissatisfaction with rising food prices and sharp currency depreciation has caused citizens in some cities to take to the streets and vent their dissatisfaction with the government. At the end of April, Prime Minister Hassan Diab announced that the government had solicited advice from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on the economic bailout plan and asked for bail-outs, and stated that the country needed $11 billion in loans in addition to It also requires more than US$100 billion in international assistance. It is related to the reforms promised by the former Prime Minister Hariri at the International Donor Conference in Paris in 2018. However, despite efforts to control the depreciation, the Lebanese pound has set a new low on the black market in recent weeks (over 5,000 US dollars (instead of the official exchange rate of about 1507 to 1 US dollar six months ago), triggering violence across the country Demonstration.

Lebanon encountered a perfect storm with increasing intensity. This situation provides an opportunity to contain or even degrade Hezbollah. The international community should continue to exert pressure, stand firm and make it clear that although it hopes to avoid Lebanon’s Financial and political collapse, but its financial and economic support is entirely dependent on Lebanese officials fighting corruption and giving up on indulgence against Lebanon. Hezbollah. Europe should also stop minimizing the threat of Hezbollah and designating them all as terrorist organizations, To ensure that its illegal activities are exposed, contained and punished.

Hizbullah’s response to Covid-19 [19659002] Under the current political arrangements, Hezbollah controls the Ministry of Health and conducts a decisive public The policy campaign was aimed at showing off its ambulance fleet and various hospitals and health centers, but it was at a disadvantage because of its close ties to Iran and its slow response to Covid-19. After the initial denial, the response was slow, making Iran a pandemic Middle East Center: Although the actual number may be much higher, nearly 200,000 cases and 9,272 deaths have been recorded. Hezbollah media opponents accuse the organization of importing the virus on flights from Iran and spreading it to The country.

The first case of coronavirus in Lebanon was a 45-year-old woman who went to Iran and was confirmed on February 21. The government immediately reduced the number of people entering Iran, but Hezbollah insisted on two more It was only a week before all flights from Iran were banned. It wanted to protect the image of its customers and meet its own logistical needs (including the massive transfer of increasingly complex Iranian rockets and precision-guided weapons). Hezbollah militants and political party officials were infected After a further hostile review, the Arab media alleged that Hezbollah secretly treated Iranian military leaders in hospitals under its control.

So far, 1,510 Covid-19 cases and 32 related deaths have been confirmed in Lebanon However, factors such as increased street protests, the repatriation of flights entering the fourth phase, and the reopening of the airport on July 1 are not reassuring, and many people are likely to cause damage to the virus in Lebanon’s densely populated refugee community Worried about sexual impact. The country hosts about 1.5 million Syrian and Palestinian refugees.

Financial impact

Intelligence agencies estimate that Hezbollah’s annual funding from Iran is approximately $700 million (approximately 70% of its budget). However, the pressure of the coronavirus outbreak, coupled with the sharp drop in oil prices and the impact of sanctions, means that Iran’s GDP may shrink by up to about 20%, thus forcing a substantial defense expenditure Cut and limit its ability to provide funding for Hezbollah.

Although it is true that Hezbollah does not rely entirely on Iran for funding-it has other sources of income, including a global network of illegal activities comparable to organized criminal groups-this is still a heavy blow and has forced the organization to cut spending significantly . It found that it was unable to provide the subsidies, services and jobs that its supporters depended on, just as the economy in Lebanon was sluggish: it had delayed the payment of salaries for some of its internal employees, no longer paying for new employees, and young Shiite men were disturbed by prospects. Wage levels in a country that attracts few economic opportunities. Hezbollah TV station Al-Manar has cancelled the show and laid off staff. The organization’s original generous spending plan to support poor Shia people has been cut, including free prescription drugs and even food for the families of combatants and party employees.

The German government's decision to ban Hezbollah from all activities within the Federation also caused a heavy blow to the organization. Together with France, Germany became the hub of European economic activity. Almost all EU member states legally distinguish between Hezbollah’s military and political factions: Although the former is officially designated as a terrorist organization, the latter is considered sufficient to operate independently. The Netherlands is the only EU member state that sees Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. Elsewhere, the Arab League, Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Gulf Cooperation Council, Israel and the United States have adopted similar approaches. In fact, there has never been a compelling argument that maintains the distinction between political and military Hezbollah. This is completely fictional. Even the Hezbollah spokesman and deputy secretary Naim Qassem repeatedly denied any separation between the two, and he asserted: "We have no military factions and no political factions.

The German government The ban was a major setback for the organization and deprived it of its important economic pillars in Europe.

Especially in the context of the unstable Lebanese economy, precious foreign exchange is an indispensable tool to strengthen its strength. [19659002 Smuggling group

In recent weeks, smuggling activities on the Lebanon-Syria border have increased significantly. Several media have shown images of long truck convoys smuggling gasoline and flour into Syria through illegal channels. Smuggling of borders is not new to the region, but the scale of these existing operations is different from traditional practices, so that they have posed a threat to the economic and political security of Lebanon. This is firstly due to the smuggling into Syria The two main commodities were subsidized by the Lebanese government, so it spent hard currency in buying gasoline and flour, only to see them smuggled into Syria. The Lebanese government reported that there were more than 124 illegal border crossings, resulting in annual losses exceeding $600 million, conservatively estimated to be an understatement compared to the billions of dollars in action between Hezbollah and the Syrian regime.

If Hezbollah does not actually operate these smuggling groups, it will sanction them. Eastern Lebanon The control of the border allows it to maintain a sound military infrastructure and provide cover and pseudo-legitimacy for a range of illegal activities. Some smuggling activities did pass through the northern border with Syria, but most of it occurred in Saki Anti controlled by Hezbollah On the anti-Lebanon mountain range.

Street protests

The government announced on October 17th that in October 2019, Internet voice calling services such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger were charged a monthly tax of $6, which triggered National protests. These have recently become more violent. Due to the deterioration of economic conditions and the rampant corruption of the ruling class, the masses have destroyed banks and clashed with the Lebanese Armed Forces. This anger can now be concentrated on two possible Direction: Early elections or further street violence.

The 2005 protests expelled entrenched Syrian military and intelligence interests from Lebanon, which provided an important lesson for people to illustrate the power of local protests. Effective external support. Sustained and sympathetic attention to the United States, the United Nations, the European Union and the Gulf Cooperation Council can protect protesters and help the Lebanese people take a democratic initiative to seize the opportunity of their partners in the next election to deprive Hezbollah’s parliament Even so, the international community’s support for protesters should not be extended to direct Interference in the Lebanon election, because it will make it easy for Hezbollah to discredit the protesters from acting in the name of foreign powers.

The Lebanese government’s background with the May 13 negotiations with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) provides an opportunity to force them to decouple Hezbollah. The organization may surprise some people by approving a potential rescue plan, but it has preemptively rejected any terms that impose political conditions. Therefore, the international community needs to find a way to publicly convey the message that if the Lebanese government really wants to prevent a complete socioeconomic collapse, it must rely on national institutions rather than Hezbollah to promote reform, accountability and transparency agendas. However, if it cannot remove all the symbols of corruption and continue to indulge Hezbollah, the international community will not be able to mobilize support, and Lebanon will be condemned to collapse.

Nonetheless, call for the voice facing the Lebanese Armed Forces and temporarily disarm Hezbollah: it will risk pushing Hezbollah into a corner, which may lead to a metastatic conflict with Israel in order to re-establish resistance The protagonist of power may trigger another bloody civil war. Hezbollah should not be angered to the point of despair leading to national destruction wars. That was what happened in 2005: after the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Hezbollah was frustrated because the fingers began to point in their direction, and the war with Israel was distracting.

In 2008, Hezbollah further proved that it would respond to any attempt to contain its power. In response to Prime Minister Fouad Siniora’s attempt to dismantle Hezbollah’s telecommunications network and the dissolution of Beirut International Airport’s pro-Hizbullah security chief Wafic Shkeir, Hezbollah’s armed forces The elements seized control of many parts of Beirut from the pro-government militia in bloody street battles. The death toll, which killed 42 and 164 people, reached an agreement on May 21, 2008, overturning the government’s decision to allow Hezbollah to retain its telecommunications network and restore the post of head of airport security.

Any effort to promote wider disarmament in Lebanon at this stage will elicit a fairly positive response from Hezbollah. The confrontation between Hezbollah and the Lebanese Armed Forces will quickly escalate into a civil war, and the inevitable chaos will only benefit Iranian and Sunni extremists. Facts have proved that the civil wars in Syria, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen are all useful tools for expanding Iranian forces and fertile ground for Al Qaeda’s terrorist brand.

Moreover, the Lebanese opponents of Hezbollah knew they could not win such a victory. conflict. Hezbollah has a huge arsenal, Lebanon’s military infrastructure is constantly expanding, and it has rich combat experience. It can also rely on a lot of foreign aid, as well as stable weapons and funds. Its opponents cannot meet these requirements. Their lack of military training and organization will make external military assistance useless.

Military assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces

Recently, a group of members of Congress asked the US Secretary of State Governor Mike Pompeo to stop all assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces, believing that they are with Allah There is no real difference between the parties. Since 2010, the United States has provided more than $1.82 billion in security assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces. This support allowed the Lebanese Armed Forces to defeat the Islamic State in Lebanon, regain control of Lebanese territory bordering Syria, and increase its presence in southern Lebanon along with UNIFIL.

Although it may not necessarily provide the United States with considerable leverage over the Lebanese government, and despite the Lebanese Armed Forces, it has been the main policy tool for strengthening Lebanese sovereignty, ensuring the country’s borders, fighting internal threats and strengthening legitimate state institutions.

The troops feared that they could not actively fight Hezbollah and still have reason to continue to provide military assistance.

The Lebanese Armed Forces is Lebanon’s most representative institution, and its reputation surpasses sectarian division. It is one of the few national institutions that most Lebanese citizens consider to be a real country. The current street protests against the political class highlight the importance of effective Lebanese armed forces for internal stability. It sometimes uses excessive force against demonstrators, but in general, it shows a high level of professionalism in demonstrating demonstrators, and recently formed a chain of people to separate hostile rallies near the presidential palace. Facts have proved that it strongly resists the advice of political leaders and requires them to adopt more methods of repression. Contrary to the apparent decline in Hizbullah’s prestige, military aid or long-term investment in key Lebanese institutions may even contribute to the peaceful end of Lebanon’s factional-based political order because of its rising prestige.

A calls the European Union

Given the German government’s ban, Hezbollah seems likely to establish new structures elsewhere and shift its financial activities to France and Eastern Europe. For its part, the European Union must now stop minimizing the threat from Hezbollah and hold it legally responsible for its actions. All Hezbollah should be designated as terrorist organizations, their illegal activities were exposed, contained and punished. Only a ban on the entire organization within the entire EU can ensure that it is no longer based on the recruitment, funding and planning of attacks in Europe. Therefore, greater pressure should be applied to European governments to ban Hizbullah as a political and military force of terrorist organizations and to limit their sources of funding.

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