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Hezbollah Stands To Benefit From Lifting Of Economic Sanctions Against Iran

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Erica Wenig Contributor
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If the Obama administration goes through with its plan to lift economic sanctions against Iran, it will free up funding for Iran’s favorite terrorist proxy, Hezbollah.

The Lebanese Shiite terror organization emerged after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. From the beginning, Hezbollah received funding and training from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The group has launched many high profile attacks, including the 1983 bombing of U.S. barracks in Beirut that killed 241 Marines.

Iran invests up to $200 million a year in Hezbollah, according to a report from 2013.

Since the Syrian uprising began in 2011, Hezbollah has become deeply involved in supporting its ally, Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Syria is a vital land link between the Lebanese organization and Iran. Combined with Iranian spending cuts, this has taken a financial toll on Hezbollah.

So it’s no surprise the group’s leaders are hailing last week’s announcement of an agreed upon framework for a nuclear deal as a win: Lifting economic sanctions against Iran will free up funding for Hezbollah, according to David Schenker, an expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“The Iranian nuclear deal is a victory for the right, fortitude and the will of free peoples and the resistance plan led by Iran, Islam and the rejection of subordination to the West,” said Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Naim Qassem.

“There is a global recognition of Iran as a member of the nuclear club,” said Nawar Sahli, a Hezbollah lawmaker in the Lebanese parliament, The Daily Star reports.

World leaders have expressed their concern over the terms of the deal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said lifting sanctions will lead to an influx of money for the country’s “terror machine” in an interview on ABC Sunday“They’re not going to use it for schools or hospitals or roads; they’re going to use it to pump up their terror machine worldwide and their military machine busy conquering the Middle East now,” said Netanyahu.

Lebanese Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk echoed Netanyahu’s concerns, saying the outcome of the nuclear negotiations will directly affect Lebanon. Iranian foreign policy has only brought crises to the region, according to the minister. “Those who think the Islamic republic would push for stability in the Middle East are being deceived,” said Machnouk.

In a statement delivered to TheDCNF after this article was published, a representative for the Department of the Treasury wrote, “We will remain relentless about targeting Hezbollah and those supporting the group. Treasury and our partners across the administration have consistently demonstrated our commitment to aggressively targeting Hezbollah for its illicit activities, including global terrorism and destabilizing conduct throughout the Middle East. This has included efforts to disrupt Hezbollah’s access to the Lebanese financial system and dismantle a global Hezbollah weapons procurement network.”

As President Barack Obama and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani seek to present the framework in a positive light at home, they have set conflicting timelines for sanctions relief. Obama said it will occur as Iran adheres to the deal, but Rouhani announced that the sanctions will be lifted immediately after an agreement is reached. (RELATED: 5 Ways The Iran Deal Could Go Sour, And One Sign Of Hope)

Iran is focused on exporting its Islamic revolution, not on projects like improving infrastructure. “The nuclear deal doesn’t change the nature of the state,” said Schenker.

In mid-March, Agence France Presse reported Iran’s top general, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, saying “The Islamic revolution is advancing with good speed, its example being the ever-increasing export of the revolution.” Jafari called Hezbollah and its resistance to the Israeli military “one of the Islamic revolution’s miracles.” 

Obama said if Iran breaks the terms of the agreement, sanctions could be snapped back into place, but such a move is unrealistic, says Schenker. Foreign Policy said the “snapback” scenario “would be an unprecedented episode of economic diplomacy.” 

The Department of Treasury did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment on the future of combating funding to Hezbollah following the lifting of sanctions against Iran.

The Department of State has considered Iran a state sponsor of terrorism since 1984.

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Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include comment from the Treasury Department delivered after publication.

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