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HomeGeopolitical CompassThe LevantThe US's long financial war on Hezbollah - and Lebanon

The US’s long financial war on Hezbollah – and Lebanon

Author: Paul Cochrane

Affiliation: Independent Journalist 

Organization/Publisher: Middle East Eye

Date/Place:  November 19, 2020/UK

Type of Literature: Opinion

Word Count: 1983

Link: https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/lebanon-us-hezbollah-financial-war-sanctions 

Keywords:  Hezbollah, Sanctions, Financial Warfare.

Brief:

As part of US policies of sanctions on governments and groups which it opposes, including countries like Iran and Venezuela, Lebanon and Hezbollah in particular have been under sanctions in hopes of suffocating the latter. The Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Acts (HIFPA I, II) were attempts at targeting Hezbollah’s financial resources, yet they failed to achieve concrete results. Hezbollah operates in parallel banking and finance lanes, giving them a degree of immunity. The post-9/11 Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) laws have been the US’ most powerful tools in its financial warfare, along with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Lebanese banks have come under heavy scrutiny; the finance war has caused thousands of accounts to be closed, further squeezing Hezbollah out of the finance system. One of the results of this is the blames and counter-blames on who caused Lebanon’s economic predicament. Hezbollah cannot be blamed as the prime cause, since the roots go back to the 1990s when the organization was outside of political action. Be that as it may, the recent US sanctions are not affecting the economy as it used to. The October 2019 protests, Covid-19 pandemic, and the August 4th port explosion have pushed the economy off the edge; the Lebanese Economic and banking sectors have collapsed. Yet the effects of the recent sanctions on ‘former foreign ministers’ will have much wider effects on corrupt individuals than the sanctions on Hezbollah. 

By: Omar Fili, CIGA Research Assistant

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