Iran’s global battering ram, the U.S.-designated terrorist group Lebanese Hezbollah, has entered such dire financial straits that it can no longer supply free groceries to its employees and beseeches the people to fill donation boxes. So said The Washington Post in a May 18 story, which squared with a March 28 story in The New York Times. Both papers report tough times for the terror group as a result of President Donald Trump’s to-the-bone-marrow sanctions against the group’s primary patron, Iran, which has had to cut subsidies.
The cuts have forced Hezbollah fighter furloughs from Syria, staff layoffs at its Al-Manar Internet TV station, slashes in salaries and reimbursement expenses, and jihad donation boxes deployed all over Lebanon, the newspapers report.
These reports come at an auspicious time. Wittingly or not, the reports feed a narrative that Democratic presidential candidates and their supporters are using to paint the Trump administration as incompetent or mendacious in redeploying a carrier battle group in response to intelligence that Iran is preparing first strikes. The narrative says President Trump and his people are purposefully over-weighting the threat of Iran and Hezbollah as a pretext for another war quagmire like Iraq.
But the newspapers leave important information and context unaddressed. Even if it suffers the effects of bad cash flow, Hezbollah is not on the ropes. As Iran’s global tool of retribution and coercion, and battle-hardened from years of fighting in Syria, it remains a highly dangerous threat to the United States and its allies.
Left unsaid by both the Post and the Times is that Hezbollah achieved significant financial autonomy from Iran more than a decade ago. How? Starting in about 2006, it moved into Latin America and hit it very big in the international cocaine trafficking industry.