Hezbollah on the Decline?

by Daniel Pipes
December 21, 2011
Cross-posted from National Review Online

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Saleh Ezzedine, Hezbollah's answer to Bernard Madoff.

In its 30-year history, Hezbollah has gone from strength to strength, going from simple terrorist group to major political force within Lebanon. But now, with economic sanctions starting to bite in Iran and the government of Syria fighting for its life, Hezbollah has met hard times that could precursor a collapse.

Georges Malbrunot documents the organization’s problems in “Le Hezbollah affaibli par la révolte syrienne” in Le Figaro (and available without cost here). He points to these problems:

  • The Iranian regime has reduced its annual support for Hezbollah by about 25 percent, to US$350 million.
  • Were the Assad regime to fall, Hezbollah would lose its main patron.
  • The organization must support Bashar el-Assad but, as a United Nations observer points out, it has no reply to why, in the name of the resistance, it supports the Shiites in Bahrain but not the Syrian people.
  • The reconstruction that followed the war with Israel in 2006 brought corruption to the organization, symbolized the US$1.6 billion Ponzi scheme run by one of its money men, Saleh Ezzedine.
  • Because of U.S. sanctions on Hezbollah, wealthy Shiite families in the diaspora since have much diminished their support.
  • Cash problems have prompted Hezbollah to turn a blind eye toward Shiite families in the Bekaa producing illicit drugs, on condition they provide Hezbollah with intelligence and a portion of the income.
  • Its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, instructed a group of wives of Hezbollah operatives to “Stop taking advantage of party funds to play at being bourgeois.”
  • Nasrallah discovered after the assassination of his close ally Imad Mougnieh that Mougnieh had in fact betrayed by setting up his own structure within Hezbollah.
  • The CIA has infiltrated Hezbollah.
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Comment: Hezbollah still enjoys a powerful position in Lebanon but the U.S.-led campaign against Tehran, Damascus, and itself seems slowly to be paying off. (December 21, 2011)

Source material can be found at this site.

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