Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah. (Wikimedia Commons)

Hizbullah’s Financial Recklessness Must End

Al-Joumhouria, Lebanon, May 7

There has been a lot of talk that what is happening today is an attempt to change the nature of the free economic system in Lebanon and impose some kind of control over the banking sector. The claim is that Hizbullah is behind this move, seeking to consolidate its power by setting facts on the ground. How true is this assumption? The hypothesis that Hizbullah seeks to change the Lebanese regime is not a matter of conspiracy or libelous accusation, but rather the explicit ideology of the organization. It is repeatedly cited by the party’s senior leadership. Hizbullah’s main goal, on the political and ideological level, is to make Lebanon, according to Hassan Nasrallah’s statement, “not an independent Islamic republic, but a part of the greater Islamic Republic” – that is, a part of Iran. The truth is that there is nothing wrong with Nasrallah’s ambition. The pursuit of a political goal, even one we strongly disagree with, is not inherently immoral provided that it doesn’t contradict the democratic and peaceful nature of our country. The problem emerges when the pursuit of this goal inherently subjugates the Lebanese public to the forces of oppression and intimidation, as we are currently witnessing among government opposition forces within Iran. The discussion here goes back to the economic system. If history has taught us anything, it’s that Hizbullah benefited directly from Lebanon’s capitalist economy, and particularly from the ability to handle its financial matters behind closed doors through private banks. Hizbullah never waged a war on the Lebanese banking system, because it needed it in order to survive. However, things took a downturn after US administrations imposed restrictions on banking freedom and decided to dry up Hizbullah’s funds through sanctions. A case in point was the Hizbullah-linked Jammal Trust Bank, which was forced to close last year because of US sanctions. This is where the confrontation between Hizbullah and the banking sector began emerging. While the Lebanese government is seeking to launch an economic rescue plan backed by the International Monetary Fund, Hizbullah is seeking to protect its financial interests in Lebanon. Today, I want to say the following: It is simply unacceptable for us Lebanese to bear any costs associated with Hizbullah’s expansionist agenda. The debt we have must not be used in vain to serve Hizbullah’s new military projects. The only way forward is to stop our country’s financial deterioration, restore stolen public money and start a process of economic revival. This cannot be achieved without stopping the political and financial wastefulness imposed by Hizbullah. Otherwise, every penny we save and every dollar we raise from international donors will simply go down the drain in the service of others. – Mustafa Alloush (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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