In a speech broadcast on Friday, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanese militant group Hezbollah scoffed at the recent US sanctions stating that these sanctions will not impact his group whatsoever due to the fact that Hezbollah receives full financial and arms support from the Islamic Republic of Iran.
He pointed out that “We do not have any business projects or investments via banks…” Nasrallah added that “We are open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, come from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” and he emphasized that his group “will not be affected” by any fresh sanctions.
On the other hand, since Hezbollah is receiving full funding and arms support from Iran, according to Nasrallah, the US is now seemingly playing a critical role in assisting and facilitating the ways through which Hezbollah receives this significant aid from the Iranian government.
The Obama administration and Hassan Rowhani’s government were two key players in getting the nuclear agreement signed. When the nuclear terms started being implemented, the Obama administration began immediately transferring billions of dollars to Iran’s Central Bank. One of the payments included 1.7 billion dollars transferred, in January 2015.
Two of the major primary beneficiaries of these sanctions reliefs and flow of money are Hezbollah and the IRGC. Iran also immediately increased its military budget by $1.5 billion from $15.6 billion to $17.1 billion. Iran also began witnessing the flow of money due to the lifting of international sanctions.
Nasrallah’s speech also indicates that the US money transfer to Iran’s bank and the sanctions reliefs appear to have empowered and emboldened both the Iranian government and the Hezbollah leader.
Previously, when sanctions were imposed on Iran, Tehran had to reduce Hezbollah and its TV’s (Al-Manar channel) funding from the approximately $200 million a year. However, thanks to Washington, the money that Iran is receiving from the US or the market is again going on its way to Hezbollah, the major benefactor.
President Obama had given hope to world powers that engaging with Iran and the nuclear deal with Tehran would more likely force the Iranian government to moderate its behavior. Obama pointed out in an interview with NPR’s Steve Inskeep that as a result of the nuclear agreement Iran would start “different decisions that are less offensive to its neighbors; that it tones down the rhetoric in terms of its virulent opposition…”
Hezbollah’s confirmation of receiving money and arms from Iran is intriguing. Almost all signs indicate that the continuation of sanctions relief, and US transfer of billions of dollars to Iran militarily and financially assisting and ending up in the hands of Iran’s primary proxy, Hezbollah as well as Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, and the Quds force.
Read More: Al-Arabia
Featured Image – Nasrallah: “We are open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, its income, its expenses, everything it eats and drinks, its weapons and rockets, come from the Islamic Republic of Iran.” (Photo: screengrab)