The Trump administration has adopted a strategy of financial warfare on the terrorist organization - and it seems to be succeeding
Who will collapse, Hezbollah or Lebanon?
Tensions in the past week on the northern border have brought Lebanon back to international and Israeli consciousness. A country that has been largely forgotten in the past year amid the corona plague, growing tensions in the Gulf and Iraq between the US and Iran, repeated attacks against pro-Iranian and Hezbollah militias in Syria. Those who would even say that it might be about its very existence in the current model.
Degenerating into chaos? Clashes between protesters and security forces // Credit: Deleting
Lebanon is currently facing an economic and social crisis, perhaps the most severe in recent decades, a crisis that could undermine stability and the delicate fabric within the country. This crisis is not primarily due to the corona plague and its economic consequences, but as part of an American strategy for a total economic war with Iran and its metastases.
Not surgery, but chemotherapy
The Trump administration has come to understand what its predecessors refused - that in order to cause significant damage to Hezbollah, the organization must be disconnected from the nipple of the Lebanese economy, with an emphasis on Lebanese banking, and such disconnection in Lebanon's social and economic structure can not be done surgically. Among other things, the health systems of the body - ie the Lebanese economy.
Only in recent years has the insight penetrated the Western world about Hezbollah's danger to the stability of regimes and economies in the Middle East and around the world. Hezbollah's involvement in the war in Syria, its becoming a tool for advancing Iran's interests in the Middle East, including Yemen and Iraq, making the organization one of the world leaders in the field of crime (drug and drug trafficking), threatening Western Europe, South America and the United States.
His cross-border involvement in terrorism has all raised awareness of the need to substantially harm the organization's capabilities. While a direct military campaign against Hezbollah has very dangerous consequences for Israel as well, but no less than for American and Western interests, economic damage to the organization, although considered less dangerous, has far more serious consequences than military damage.
However, a real economic campaign against Hezbollah requires difficult moves against Lebanon as a state, since Hezbollah leaders in their wisdom have over the years built the organization's economy closely with the state's economy. Hezbollah's dependence on the Lebanese banking system, for example, is total and its detachment from it is like a death sentence for the organization.
While no previous US administration was willing to accept this view, but resorted to a point-by-point war, the Trump administration has adopted a view of total economic war with Hezbollah and Lebanon, with the goal of exposing the Lebanese people to a choice - Hezbollah or economic collapse. The American working assumption, also valid in relation to the total campaign in Iran is that only the peoples themselves, and not a military campaign, can bring about a fundamental change in the country.
The operation that Obama canceled a month and harms the organization's economy
The American economic campaign, which is being supported for the first time by European countries, led by Germany, finds Hezbollah a very difficult economic reality. His profits from his criminal activities were severely damaged after the Americans resumed Operation Cassandra, which was stopped by the Obama administration, and aimed to severely damage Hezbollah's drug industry.
Some of its financial infrastructure was damaged by the exposure of European countries, Iran significantly reduced the amounts it could transfer to the organization, Suleimani's death, the organization's huge expenses in light of the war in Syria, the corona, all of which greatly hurt the organization's economic situation.
Into all this the Americans poured a whole basket of sanctions on both Hezbollah and Lebanon as a state, with most of the pressure directed at the Lebanese banks. The situation is that Lebanon is in a complete economic collapse, galloping inflation, chaos and unprecedented protests against Hezbollah, which are joined by Shiite elements who have been identified with the organization all these years.
Despite the cries of terror heard from the Lebanese street and the regime to the international community to save Lebanon, the message coming from the US and the West is clear and unequivocal. There are a number of conditions you must adopt and accept, these conditions have one clear and definite goal,
Hezbollah needed the recent crisis with Israel at the border to try and bring itself back to the center of the Lebanese capital. He desperately needs activity that will supposedly preserve his power and status in Lebanon. In such a case, a security incident could incite Lebanese public opinion from the harsh reality and bring Hezbollah back to the forefront.
Learning from Hamas, waiting for November
But it is possible that the consideration of Hezbollah and Nasrallah also raises the thought that it is very possible that in the depressing reality in Lebanon, which may change when a new president rises in the United States, it may be worthwhile to adopt Hamas' policy in the Gaza Strip.
Creating a permanent and ongoing threat to Israel, including the occasional creation of such and other controlled events has created a dialogue for ceasefires and re-regulation. In this context, as in Gaza, the new equation of money for peace will rise. Such a situation would allow Nasrallah to be portrayed again as the savior of Lebanon. And Israel, if it agrees to such a policy in Gaza, why not agree to Lebanon as well?
The writer is an expert in financial warfare; He served for thirty years in a wide range of positions in the defense system and the National Security Council and is currently a researcher at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Defense (JISS).