Iran pays $830m. to Hezbol­lah

Jerusalem Post - - FRONT PAGE - • By ANNA AHRONHEIM

Two years after the nu­clear deal was signed by Iran and world pow­ers, the Is­lamic Repub­lic is re­ported to have boosted its fi­nan­cial sup­port to Hezbol­lah to $800 mil­lion a year, a dra­matic in­crease from the $200m. it was said to be giv­ing its proxy when sanc­tions were in place.

Hezbol­lah, one of the most promi­nent ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions in the world, has be­come bogged down fight­ing in Syria for Bashar As­sad. Of its ap­prox­i­mately 22,000 fight­ers, about 7,000 are fight­ing for the As­sad regime, and some 2,000 have been killed in the four years the group has spent in Syria.

The US and Euro­pean

coun­tries lifted sanc­tions against Iran in Jan­uary 2016, re­leas­ing roughly $100 bil­lion in as­sets after in­ter­na­tional in­spec­tors found that Iran had dis­man­tled large parts of its nu­clear pro­gram. Ac­cord­ing to US me­dia, of­fi­cials say Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is ready to ex­tend those waivers that were is­sued un­der the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to IDF as­sess­ments, while Hezbol­lah has in­creased its mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­i­ties due to its fight­ing in Syria, the group has spread its troops across the en­tire Mid­dle East and is hurt­ing fi­nan­cially.

The fi­nances of the Le­banese Shi’ite group, des­ig­nated as a For­eign Ter­ror­ist Or­ga­ni­za­tion by dozens of coun­tries around the globe, also has been hit hard due to years of sanc­tions by the United States.

In June, a US con­gres­sional com­mit­tee met to dis­cuss en­hanc­ing sanc­tions tar­get­ing Hezbol­lah met with four se­cu­rity ex­perts for ad­vice on ad­di­tional le­gal ac­tions against the group’s fi­nan­cial net­work.

Ac­cord­ing to the com­mit­tee, the 2015 Hezbol­lah In­ter­na­tional Fi­nanc­ing Pre­ven­tion Act (HIPA), which threat­ens sanc­tions against any­one who fi­nances the group in any sig­nif­i­cant way, was a good start but needs en­hanc­ing be­cause Hezbol­lah con­tin­ues to re­main a sig­nif­i­cant threat to Is­rael.

Iran also is re­ported to be spend­ing hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars for its mili­tias in Syria and Iraq, as well as sup­port­ing Houthi rebels in Ye­men who are fight­ing pro-gov­ern­ment forces backed by a Saudi-led coali­tion.

Although HIPA placed ma­jor re­stric­tions and other mea­sures of the Le­banese bank­ing sec­tor, law­mak­ers in Wash­ing­ton be­lieve it needs to be widened to crip­ple the group, which is in­volved in fight­ing in those coun­tries.

Tehran, which froze its fi­nan­cial sup­port to Hamas in the Gaza Strip after the group re­fused to sup­port the As­sad regime in 2012, is now re­ported to be pro­vid­ing the Gazan ter­ror­ist group some $60m.-70m.

In Au­gust, Hamas leader Yahya Sin­war said ties have been re­stored and that Iran is “the largest backer fi­nan­cially and mil­i­tar­ily” to Hamas’s mil­i­tary wing.

Mean­while, the IDF on Thurs­day af­ter­noon an­nounced the end of the large-scale Or Hada­gan mil­i­tary drill in north­ern Is­rael. The ex­er­cise, with tens of thou­sands of sol­diers from all branches of the army sim­u­lat­ing a war with Hezbol­lah, was the largest IDF drill in al­most 20 years.

“The ob­jec­tive of the ex­er­cise was to im­prove the North­ern Com­mand, the North­ern Corps and the abil­ity of its di­vi­sions to fight the multi-branch op­er­a­tional sys­tem in the North­ern Com­mand, with an em­pha­sis on the Le­banese front,” the Spokesper­sons Unit said.

Dur­ing the drill, large num­bers of aerial, naval and land ve­hi­cles and equip­ment were used and troops were trained in joint ex­er­cises. Both de­fense and of­fen­sive ca­pa­bil­i­ties, as well as fire power, in­tel­li­gence and si­mul­ta­ne­ous mil­i­tary ma­neu­vers were prac­ticed in sev­eral sec­tors of the north­ern front.

The Home Front Com­mand also prac­ticed im­ple­men­ta­tion of the plan to evac­u­ate res­i­dents of com­mu­ni­ties that sit on the bor­der with Le­banon.

Although the pri­mary threat posed by Hezbol­lah re­mains its mis­sile ar­se­nal, which has been re­built with the help of Iran since the 2006 Se­cond Le­banon War, the IDF be­lieves the next war will see the group try to bring the fight to the home front by in­fil­trat­ing Is­raeli com­mu­ni­ties to in­flict sig­nif­i­cant civil­ian and mil­i­tary ca­su­al­ties. •

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