Sanctions on Lebanon in general and Hezbollah in particular are doomed to fail. Trump roars sometimes claiming to impose the harshest batch of sanctions, and shrugs other times when asked by the media about the Middle East, Lebanon, Iran, or even Corona. The best he could do in the current COVID-19 crisis was get a few people killed after advising the consumption of hand sanitizer to protect oneself from the virus. The same shrugs come along with misconception and incorrect answers when he is asked about Lebanon and its resistance movement.
By Nour Rida
The US ambassador in Lebanon, Dorothy Shea, for her part uses the same old literature of the US administration and dual diplomacy; that of double standards and critical discourse by putting all the blame on the resistance movement that has been preventing ‘Israeli’ attacks on Lebanon and remaining totally silent on all ‘Israeli’ provocations and violations. She attacks the resistance movement and supports US sanctions on Hezbollah and Syria (represented in the Caesar act) and carries out the US non-stop meddling in Lebanese affairs; another Jeffrey Feltman attacking the resistance only without a mustache.
This is America, anyone who expects otherwise is naïve or ill-informed. However, what America should know, or better say “the American government” should know is that no matter how tough the sanctions on Hezbollah get, no matter how much is spent on media campaigns against the resistance movement, and no matter how bad the US government tries to choke the resistance movement and its people, it is doomed to complete failure.
Academic studies can be an interesting source to start the discussion. Some theorists provide empirical evidence that the imposition of sanctions increases state-sponsored repression and suggests that these sanctions contribute to worsening humanitarian conditions of the civilian population. Others find that the imposition of economic sanctions curtails political and civil rights of the citizens, thereby resulting in deteriorating democratic freedom. That can be true; but only in a merely materialistic framework. This does not apply to Lebanon and its people. For those who are not keeping up with the news; Lebanon’s local currency has been deteriorating rapidly. Since October, there has been riots and protests across the country. ‘Israeli’ threats are non-stop and Trump and his surrounding officials keep vowing to choke Hezbollah.
The result of all this propaganda hype and intended pressure is reversed. It is delightful to see that when bakeries were on strike and did not distribute bread to supermarkets for economic reasons and people had to line up to buy bread; bread bags were everywhere for free right on the next day or in wholesale price everywhere especially in the areas where Hezbollah supporters live.
Samer, a young man who volunteered to take the bread and deliver it to some supermarkets and keep the rest on a table at his doorstep for people to take for free told al-Ahed news “This is how we live. The people serve the people. We all support one another when in trouble or in times of hardships.”
Fatima who has been a volunteer with the social groups of Hezbollah for years told al-Ahed news “The tougher it gets the more resilient and creative we get. We provide each other and our society with services at low cost or even through barter. Also a lot of what we do is for free too and in all fields and domains, you just name it.”
Fatima also told al-Ahed news “Oh and by the way, these services are not only limited to the Shiites. Anyone in need can benefit from the services. Since the beginning of the crisis, different NGOs with different religious backgrounds have been helping everyone. This is one of Lebanon’s pretty characteristics, despite political divisions, people from different religious backgrounds try to spread love and peace their own way.”
Propaganda and media reports come with so much reassurance that Trump’s sanctions on Hezbollah threaten Lebanon’s stability. Despite the fact that sanctions can have concrete consequences when they expand and increase, and there will be more impact on the economy but that is momentary. Lebanon has vast rich lands that work quite well for agriculture. With the coming of COVID-19 and the worsening performance of the Lebanese Pound, the Lebanese youth quickly turned to start-ups and small jobs. The thing is, the people of Lebanon are not only thick-skinned when it comes to Trump and his nonsense, but are also steadfast in face of hardships no matter how bad it gets. And when it comes to the resistance movement, there is a huge and steadfast popular platform that would never turn against Hezbollah, keep in mind that the resistance movement along with the army and the people is what preserves Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence.
When we talk about a group of people or a political party, to better know their mindset look at their reference group or ideology. For the Hezbollah supporters, life does not only have one materialistic or capitalist dimension. Money is not everything and human soul is way more important to them. This is called human ethics. The core ideas of Hezbollah are typical to that of the Islamic school of thought resembled by the founder of the Islamic Revolution Imam Khomeini. This is not because Hezbollah decides to be an Iranian follower or proxy as mainstream media keeps propagating; it is rather because they share the same Islamic identity and belong to the same school of thought.
As Imam Khomeini expressed once; “This very economic sanction was a divine blessing, causing the mind of our experts to be set in motion and they are proceeding towards self-sufficiency.”
More into that, Shahid Baker Sadr, who was a Shi’a jurist, exegete of the Qur’an, thinker and also a political activist holds that Islam, through its distribution methods, can regulate the distribution of economic wealth in the best possible way. In the issue of distribution, he considers “oppression” as the fundamental social problem.
These are examples on the Shiite school of thought when it comes to economy and it ought to explain a lot.
It dates back to Islamic history. The main governing principle of the economic notion of Imam Ali (The first governor or Imam of the Shiite faith) is the observance of rights of every person regardless of creed faith and culture and implementation of justice, abstinence and austerity regarding the employees of the government from accumulating illegal wealth, struggle against the rentiers and returning the confiscated estates and properties back to the public treasury, protection of human dignity and observing their sanctity in the society ,social security for the poor and needy whereas these affairs are greatly undermined in today’s governments.
This encapsulates the theory and explanation of the idea of Islamic economy and presents a suitable model for the implementation of justice and struggle against corruption.
This is where Lebanon’s Hezbollah comes from and this is how their people think and act. With such a mindset, no economic sanctions can draw the people or the party weak, and nothing will break them. It is the American administration’s ignorance that leads it to more mistakes and turns the table against it.