BEIRUT: Talk of Hezbollah’s economic woes has continued to increase in recent months, with Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah finally acknowledging the current financial distress during a meeting with high ranking party officials.
Hezbollah officials have been scrambling to put a lid on the aforementioned “crisis” as its coffers have been depleted in the wake of its large outlays on fighting in Syria and from the increasing squeeze of U.S sanctions on its patron Iran.
Nasrallah seems to understand the severity of the problem, telling members of the group’s Education Unit, which provides scholarships and operates schools, that the crisis would “endure as long as U.S President Donald Trump is in office," sources told Annahar.
Despite Iranian largesse, unemployment and inflation in the Islamic Republic are on the rise and have taken a toll on its ability to continuously prop up its most influential proxy.
Iranian excess wealth, which has funded the group with hundreds of millions of dollars a year, appears now to be drying up.
The party has attempted to implement de facto austerity measures, cutting certain social programs it provides to large segments of Lebanon’s Shiite community yet preserving the payments to the families of dead and injured fighters.
This doesn’t seem to be enough, however, and the Iranian-backed group has resorted to the more traditional means of fundraising through its Islamic Resistance Support Organization and Imdad Committee for Islamic Charity.
Combined, these Hezbollah donation vessels have over 250,000 collection boxes spread out across southern Lebanon, set up in schools, stores, and mosques.
Despite the IRSO being targeted by the U.S, after the George W. Bush administration shut it out of the U.S. financial system and froze its assets in 2006, its donations have maintained funding to around 40 percent of its needs.
Contributions, as well as expenses, have continued to increase ever since the 2006 war with Israel, rising exponentially with the group’s involvement in both Syria and Iraq at the height of the conflict in 2015, sources say.
These funds will seek to sustain Hezbollah’s social welfare programs to the local population, from infrastructure construction to health services.
The effort is accompanied by an extensive media campaign, with a bevy of billboards erected calling on supporters of the group to contribute to the cause and advertisements on Hezbollah's al-Manar television station in support of the charity fund.
Nasrallah is seemingly confident in his ability to rally his Shiite base once again, taking a swipe at his detractors while addressing the high ranking party officials according to sources.
“Hezbollah has been at the heart of the battle ever since the outbreak of the Syrian war. The U.S meanwhile, excluding what that the Gulf dished out, spent 7 trillion dollars and got nothing.”
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