Iran and its proxy Hezbollah prioritize terrorism funding over social development
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Despite growing unrest and a weakening economy, Iran continues to funnel massive amounts of money and resources to its main terrorist proxies, especially Hezbollah, in order to expand its reach.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s recent budget allocates far more funds to regime-controlled religious charities and regional terrorist activities than to domestic social and economic programs, according to an analysis.
Rouhani’s government claims to be focused on reducing poverty and improving employment opportunities, yet it continues to cut subsidies on basic commodities and financial transfers to poor families amid rising fuel and food prices.
Instead of supporting its own people, Iran is devoting $7.4 billion to the military — primarily toward its ballistic missile program and the Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC)’s regional expansion.
The Lebanese terrorist organization Hezbollah is a major beneficiary of the latest budget. Iran “is believed by some analysts to fund [Hezbollah] to the tune of $300 million a year, although many now believe the sum is more like $1 billion,” writes Tony Duheaume.
Combined with its international criminal enterprises and drug-smuggling network, Hezbollah has no shortage of resources to continue consolidating operating bases to target Israel.
Hezbollah’s involvement in the international drug trade is well documented.
It cultivates a major base of operations in the Tri-Border Area (TBA) straddling Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. With a large Muslim population including significant numbers of Hezbollah sympathizers, the terrorist organization uses this area for recruitment, arms smuggling, drug trafficking, and logistics planning for terrorist operations.
The TBA remains “an important regional nexus of arms, narcotics, pirated goods, human smuggling, counterfeiting, and money laundering — all potential funding sources for terrorist organizations,” the US State Department has said.
A significant portion of the profits earned from Hezbollah’s illegal activities is laundered via car sales to Africa, in addition to used car dealerships in the United States.
Hezbollah’s devotion to Iran’s revolutionary ideology takes precedence over Lebanon’s constitution, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said in a March 10 speech delivered to Iranians in Lebanon. Hezbollah also adheres to Ayatollah Khamenei’s orders, Nasrallah added.
While Hezbollah claims to be Lebanon’s protector and vanguard, Nasrallah’s speech reaffirms Hezbollah’s primary commitment to carrying out Iran’s directives, even at the expense of Lebanese domestic interests.