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Opinion: A Company Called “Hezbollah” | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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To understand why Hezbollah has expanded outside its borders in Lebanon into Syria and Yemen, we must look at it as a limited company that provides services to its owner; the regime in Iran. Politicians have persistently described the group as the “Iranian proxy”.

The price is not cheap; international reports that monitor Iranian funds estimate that the group receives $900 million dollars from Tehran annually. I do not know why the figure is $900 million and not $1000 million. Perhaps Iran pays the remaining $100 million to other forces in Lebanon that also work in its favour.

In exchange for this great sum, Hezbollah carries out various tasks for Iran. It serves as a fighting force, absolves Iran from direct involvement in wars and it is for this reason that Israel attacked Lebanon and did not attack Syria or Iran, even though it definitely knew that the group is just a tool and that the Lebanese people are completely helpless. Iran is keen to confront Israel and its motivation for this has nothing to do with Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Rather, it is part of Iran’s game of regional confrontations. Iran has demands that it wants to impose on the west and Israel such as gaining permission for its nuclear program and extending its influence on the Arab Gulf states and Iraq as well. This is what the Iranians have finally achieved thanks, in part, to Hezbollah and to other forces that worked and continue to work with it today such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad but this is not the subject of today’s discussion.

The Hezbollah company began its activities in the early eighties to serve the interests of Tehran; kidnapping westerners including journalists, diplomats and professors; carrying out hijackings and conspiring to carry out assassinations and bombings in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

The Iranians have expanded the services of the Hezbollah company and the group has been assigned the task of collecting and laundering money gained from drug smuggling and dealing; heroin from Afghanistan that is transported through Iran, cocaine from South America and smuggling cigarettes in the United States without paying taxes. There is a large amount of information about it on the American Treasury and organisation to combat drugs websites. Hezbollah recently dared to use some Lebanese banks and the result of this is that the entire Lebanese banking system is now under tight international control. These international acts are planned by the Iranian regime and are implemented by its “companies” like Hezbollah.

It is certain that when the clerical regime in Tehran decides to stop funding the group, it will shrink in number and activity like any other commercial company. Do not forget that Hezbollah, who some think is perfect and has a deep ideological commitment, has been plagued by many financial scandals over the past few years. It has come to light that prominent leaders of the group have plundered money for personal purposes at a time when its members were dying in the name of the group’s convictions. The group also admitted that Mossad has succeeded in recruiting a number of its leaders and its members in the past. Is it possible for this company to go bankrupt and close its doors like all companies when their stock in unsaleable?

As a result of Iran signing the nuclear program agreement with the west, there is a possibility in the near future that Hezbollah’s key function will expire; confronting Israel. Hezbollah must be aware of this possibility even if they haven’t arrived at this stage yet. That is why we see it trying to reinvent itself as a company with new services; it is expanding the circle of its members like a mercenary and is fighting outside Lebanon in Syria, Iraq and Yemen to serve the interests of Iran. Here, we can see the importance of Yemen to the Lebanese Hezbollah; its militias arrived in the north of Yemen a few years ago and are building and training Houthi militia which Iran named “Ansar Allah” (a similar name to Hezbollah).

More recently, after the Houthis and their allies (ousted president Ali Saleh’s forces) suffered heavy defeats and lost control of most of Yemen’s provinces, Hezbollah stepped up its presence and tried to open a front against Saudi Arabia on its southern border in the governorate of Saada, a Houthi stronghold. Reports confirm the presence of Hezbollah fighters in other conflict zones far away where they fight as mercenaries.

It seems that the group’s company is creating a new alternative service instead of confronting Israel. It will fight the Syrians and perhaps the Turks later. It is also training a number of multinational Shiite militias to form an army of mercenaries following the Quds Force in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Hezbollah has also trained the Iraqi Hezbollah, Assaeb Al-Haq and other extremist Shiite militias fighting on behalf of Iran in Syria and Iraq today, and expanding the circle of fighting in Yemen and elsewhere.