Israel Directing Policy Through US Treasury: Sanctioning Hezbollah’s Political Allies in Lebanon
Source: 21st Century Wire
SEPTEMBER 12, 2019 | BY 21WIRE | 5 COMMENTS
21st Century Wire
Nearly three years into the Trump administration, one thing is clear: as it struggles to wage any direct military or proxy wars, Washington has instead relied on economic warfare against its perceived enemies, and largely on behalf of the state of Israel. Rather than hamper its supposed enemies, this policy is actually driving sanctioned parties into closer alliances, and hastening the inevitable geopolitical realignment of the region and the world.
Through the U.S. Treasury Department and its own openly pro-Israel agents of influence, namely Secretary Steve Mnuchin and his Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker, Israel has been able to attack and undermine all of its own geopolitical enemies and region rivals. The chief mechanism for achieving this is by informally directing the US government through the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), to label any person, politician or state agency – as a “terrorist,” or as a terrorist entity, which is used to apply sanctions against any person or entity which Israel designates as its enemy, or even potential enemy. It’s also no secret that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has openly boastedconvincing Trump to withdraw from the JCPOA Iran Nuclear Agreement of 2015, a policy move which triggered a seemingly endless raft of sanctions. As a result of this new runaway policy, the list of sanctioned persons and organisations by the Trump administration is the most in US history.
Firmly in its crosshairs are Lebanon’s well-established political and military wings of the Hezbollah organisation. However, there is a fundamental flaw in the western framing of Hezbollah. Firstly, it’s a historical fact that Hezbollah was born out of Israel’s illegal occupation of southern Lebanon. Had Israel not invaded and occupied this region and prosecuted its long and violent military campaign during and after the Lebanese Civil War, then it’s possible that the Hezbollah movement would never had formed in the way that it did. It was born out of Israel’s occupation. Indeed, Iran has been a traditional supporter of the group, which has naturally drawn the ire of Washington and Tel Aviv, both of whom view both Iran and Hezbollah as a joint obstacle to US-Israeli strategic security objectives in the Middle East. In order to elevate Hezbollah to ‘most targeted status,’ US officials have had to repeatedly recycle fabricated claims that Hezbollah is acting as a major global terrorist organisation. In the same breath, US officials, led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, will enthusiastically drift out the well-worn fable that ‘Iran is the world’s number one state-sponsor of terror’. Earlier this year, the US also announced that henceforth, Iran’s leading military divisions, the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Quds Force, are now designated as a “terrorist organisation.” The cold irony here is that Hezbollah militias are presently fighting (and defeating) actual terrorist organisations like al-Qaeda and ISIS (terrorists created, as well as armed and financed by numerous western and gulf states, including the United States) in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. This poses a serious problem for western powers with neocolonial designs because militarily speaking, Hezbollah has upgraded itself from a largely national defense force, to a bona fide region player. Since 2013, Hezbollah has played a pivotal role in ejecting al Qaeda and ISIS terrorists from their enclaves in Syria, thus thwarting the regime change objectives of US, UK, France, NATO member states, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and also Israel, too. Likewise IRGC and Quds special forces and military advisors have been deployed in Iraq and Syria – invited by those governments – in order to help subdue the invading terrorist brigades. The same is true for Iranian-backed militias in Iraq like the Hash’d Shaabi (People’s Mobilization Units), predominantly Shia, and who were pivotal in Iraq’s ultimate victory over ISIS in 2017. This did not stop US officials from repeatedly threatening the Hash’d and demanding the Iraqi government disband the new 120,000 strong defense force. Veteran journalist Patrick Cockburn summed it up when he concluded that the greatest threat to building peace in Iraq was not ISIS, but rather, Trump’s determination to ‘pick a fight’ with Iran. Documentation on the number of casualties is still difficult to determine, but on the aggregate, between Hezbollah, Hash’d, Iranian forces, the losses sustained in the fight against ISIS and al Qaeda number in the tens of thousands – and likely far more than the combined US soldier death toll over the course of its 18 year-long War on Terror in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond. Regardless of general western ignorance of what has actually transpired in Syria since 2011, and in Iraq since 2014, the people who actually live in the Middle East know the severity of this largely foreign-backed terrorist usurpation.
Regardless of the facts on the ground, neoconservatives and war hawks in the Beltway are still happily pressing ahead with their policies. With Tel Aviv carefully leading from behind, Washington has successfully pressured many of its allies to obey its geopolitical dictates, with the UK, Argentina and Paraguay all falling into line this year by designating Hezbollah – both its political and military wings – as a terrorist organisation, as well as pressuring Brazil to follow suit.
Of deeper concern for Washington though, is that Hezbollah is defending Lebanon’s borders from what is undoubtedly the region’s most prolific aggressor – Israel. In just the last few weeks, Israel has attacked no less than 4 of its neighbours, including unprovoked military strikes against Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Palestinians living under illegal Israeli occupation in Gaza. Hezbollah also poses another threat to Israeli hegemony in the region because of its unflagging support for resistance against Israel’s violent occupation and ethnic cleansing of the native Palestinian people. Similarly, the Islamic Republic of Iran also supports the Palestinian resistance cause. This is also a predicate for Israel’s various and sundry fabricated claims about a ‘secret Iranian nuclear arsenal,’ and imagined conspiracy that ‘Iran is occupying Syria’ – all of which are designed to garner leverage in Washington whereby US officials can view Hezbollah an accomplice to “Iran’s threat world peace.” This is the sort of geopolitical gymnastics which Israel is attempting to perform on a daily basis in order to justify the longest-running, most brutal and inhumane apartheid regimes in modern history – being waged against Palestinians and Arabs in the Middle East.
This week, the US announced it will increase its sanctions against Hamas (placing them in the same frame as ISIS), one of Palestine’s largest political bodies, and which was elected by Palestinians to govern Gaza. How Hamas (or Hezbollah) threatens US security is anyone’s guess. This move, announced by Mnuchin himself, is clearly designed for the benefit of Israel, as it further isolates and cuts-off any significant international support for Palestine. Like with Hezbollah, Hamas is an elected political party in government – now reduced to a “terrorist” organisation. Along with its militia wing, it is resisting an illegal occupation by Israeli forces according to numerous UN Resolutions. These are all inconvenient facts which are casually brushed aside by most American political and mainstream media pundits, because they do not suit the object of the exercise – to deplatform and ultimately dehumanise any local resistance to what is now widely regarded as a post-WWII neocolonial debacle.
Targeting Hezbollah’s Political Allies
Still, Washington insists on basing its international relations on numerous fabricated claims about Iran and Hezbollah, much of which has been drafted by Israel’s J Street lobbyists and the Prime Minister’s office in Tel Aviv. Now the Trump administration is taking this method a step further by threatening to sanction any political allies of Hezbollah in Lebanon.
After his visit last April to Lebanon, Secretary Pompeo told delegations that the US would sanction political “individuals” linked to Hezbollah in order to counter their ‘military and political growth,’ with the idea that this will somehow deter Iran as well. Al Jazeera also reported on that visit:
“Hanin Ghaddar, a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Al Jazeera that, according to her sources, Pompeo warned President Michel Aoun of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and Speaker Nabih Berri of the Amal movement, with personal sanctions.“
With military options practically off the table, sanctions are one of the only remaining options for Washington and Tel Aviv to undermine Hezbollah. But will it work? Washington often claims it is only levying sanctions in order to extract concessions, or to “encourage good behaviour,” only its record in extracting any concessions from its enemies as a result of punitive sanctions ranges from poor to nonexistent.
Unfortunately, this lagging counter-move by Washington may be a day late and dollar short – because like it or not, Hezbollah is now a political force in Lebanese politics who along with its allies, have a working majority in the Lebanese Parliament, as well as holding key ministerial and cabinet positions.
We have outlined before how the US Treasury was taken over by these same Soviet-Israel spy networks: