More sanctions against Iran are needed to squeeze Hezbollah, according to US Congressman Darrell Issa.
Switzerland: According to Darrell Issa, a US congressman who is part of the American delegation at the World Economic Forum, the Biden administration should impose more sanctions on Iran to limit the impact of its Hezbollah affiliate in Lebanon.
Despite generating little cash of its own, Hezbollah has had free reign in Lebanon for a long time, thanks to Iranian generosity, according to Issa. Further sanctions against Iran, he says, will weaken the militia’s grip on Lebanese affairs.
“As much as I want to sanction Hezbollah, the organization doesn’t create much of its own money,” Issa, a California Republican, said on the outskirts of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday.
“Because of Iranian influence, their wealth is disproportionate.” So, while I support stronger bank sanctions, they will be meaningless unless we expand our sanctions against Iran.”
In November of last year, Issa was one of a group of US lawmakers who went to Lebanon on a fact-finding expedition, eventually reporting back to President Joe Biden and Congress with recommendations on how to support the Lebanese.
Iran has a policy of equipping and funding proxy militias in neighboring countries in order to further its own geopolitical agenda, frequently at the expense of local populations’ security and well-being.
Despite Hezbollah and its supporters receiving a dismal result in Lebanon’s parliamentary election on May 15, Issa believes that history demonstrates that it is important to follow through on the results rather than simply going back to business as usual.
“If there is a follow-through, there should be a new speaker and a new president who are free of Hezbollah’s undue influence,” Issa told Arab News.
“There needs to be a restructuring of ministries, and above all, there needs to be a resolve to stop corruption.”
“So far, the only candidates we’ve had are those who ran anti-corruption campaigns and succeeded in changing the majority, but they haven’t succeeded in ending corruption.”
Hezbollah, the only force that did not disarm following Lebanon’s civil war from 1975 to 1990, lost its majority in the Lebanese parliament, capturing only 62 of the 128 seats up for grabs, three fewer than it required.
The election of a large number of anti-corruption independents has provided Lebanon with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to break free from the militia’s stranglehold on public life and implement critical reforms.
Lebanon has been experiencing its greatest financial crisis in decades, which has been exacerbated by the economic strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the country’s political gridlock.
The Beirut port blast in August 2020, which killed 218 people, injured 7,000, cost $15 billion in property damage, and displaced an estimated 300,000 people, was the final straw for many Lebanese.
Thousands of young Lebanese have fled the country in search of safety and opportunity, including many of the country’s best medical professionals and educators. Preventing this brain drain, according to Issa, should be a top goal for any new government.
“Lebanon can come around very quickly,” Issa added, “but only if those individuals remain in the nation.” “And today, the US is attempting to assist, but there is a large outflow from Lebanon, which will impede the recovery.”