Why blacklisting 6 Hezbollah leaders is so important
Six Hezbollah leaders have been blacklisted by six Gulf nations and the US, and the background to this is just as important as the action itself.
In May 2017, the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC) was established after the Gulf states and the US signed a memorandum of understanding in Riyadh during a visit by President Donald Trump. Even though the six blacklisted leaders do not have bank accounts in Saudi Arabia or any other Gulf nation, and do not even visit these countries or the US, the ban is part of a policy to stifle Iran and its allies in the region.
Before the blacklist was announced, the UAE blocked the activities of financial firms found to be transferring money to Iran. A few days ago, Iraq’s Al-Bilad Bank was also blacklisted, according to the US Treasury Department, which is a TFTC member.
The blacklisting of six Hezbollah leaders makes a clear distinction between their organization and Lebanon, even though Hezbollah has always sought to combine the two and make the entire country pay for any sanctions imposed on the party.
In Syria, Iran’s military and its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) do not fight directly; they send money, weapons and trainers. Therefore, we are faced with a different kind of war that requires a different kind of response.
The history of coordination between the Gulf states and the US against Iran’s activities is relatively old. But it has increased since the recent US withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal, as Washington has effectively restored the sanctions that had been on hold for the past three years.
Iran has weapons and militias, and is playing a role in armed conflicts in several countries in the region and even outside it. We do not want countries involved in counterterrorism efforts to engage with Iran or its militias in the same manner, as this simply promotes the spread of violence.
These countries, and many other allied ones, have non-violent weapons that are economic, technological and informational in nature. The semi-collapse of Iran’s currency occurred after Washington said it would reintroduce economic sanctions. With Tehran confronted by these weapons and involved in wars in Syria and Yemen, it is facing a serious crisis.
Critics often accuse countries in the region of weakness and failure, and believe they should fight Iran using the same weapons it uses: Violence and war. But they do not realize that economic weapons and sanctions, when used in collaboration with major countries, is the most effective strategy.
Iran chiefly depends on its oil revenues to finance its wars in Syria and Yemen. It also finances Hezbollah to the tune of about $700 million a year, and funds most of the budgets of Hamas in Gaza and the Houthis in Yemen.
But in Syria, Iran’s military and its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) do not fight directly; they send money, weapons and trainers. Therefore, we are faced with a different kind of war that requires a different kind of response.
- Abdulrahman Al-Rashed is a veteran columnist. He is the former general manager of Al Arabiya news channel, and former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Twitter: @aalrashed