Hezbollah leader Nasrallah calls for stepped up fundraising
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“Again we need greater solidarity … the Resistance needs popular assistance. This [fundraising] activity must be stepped up.” This March 8, 2019, appeal by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah to the organization’s supporters to increase their donations is an indication of the financial difficulties Hezbollah has found itself in following the recent tightening of American sanctions on it and on its sponsor Iran.
The UAE-owned, London-based Al-Arab daily reported that American pressure has also impacted the revenues Hezbollah receives from Iraq via the contraband oil trade and allocations by Hashd Al-Sha’bi—the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) umbrella organization of Iran-backed Iraqi Shi’ite militias that are part of the Iraqi armed forces.
According to Arab and Western media reports, after the United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement with Iran a year ago, Hezbollah streamlined operations and instituted sweeping cutbacks, even cutting fighters’ salaries.
This is not the first time Hezbollah has appealed to its supporters for aid; in 2015, after serious defeats in Syria, it asked supporters to help equip its fighters. In May 2016, it again turned to supporters for donations, after Bank of Lebanon Governor Riad Salamé ordered Lebanese banks to implement the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act, passed by the United States Congress in December 2015.
It appears that most of the funds Hezbollah raises from its supporters are in cash, in order to circumvent sanctions, so it is difficult to ascertain how much it is raising. In a video released March 23, 2019, Nasrallah stated that in just a few weeks Hezbollah had raised $2 million. About a week later, the Lebanese press reported it had raised between $7 million and $10 million.
However, Hezbollah is not likely to be able to meet its deficits if Iran reduces the estimated $700 million it provides to Hezbollah annually.