In their 30- and 25-year histories, Hezbollah and Hamas have gone from strength to strength, going from simple terrorist groups to major political force within Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. But now, with economic sanctions starting to bite in Iran and the government of Syria fighting for its life, they have both met hard times that could precursor a collapse or a split. Details:
Hezbollah: Georges Malbrunot documents the organization's problems in "Le Hezbollah affaibli par la révolte syrienne" in Le Figaro (and available without cost here). He points to these problems:
- The Iranian regime has reduced its annual support for Hezbollah by about 25 percent, to US$350 million.
Were the Assad regime to fall, Hezbollah would lose its main patron.
Saleh Ezzedine, Hezbollah's answer to Bernard Madoff.
- The organization must support Bashar el-Assad but, as a United Nations observer points out, it has no reply to why, in the name of the resistance, it supports the Shiites in Bahrain but not the Syrian people.
- The reconstruction that followed the war with Israel in 2006 brought corruption to the organization, symbolized the US$1.6 billion Ponzi scheme run by one of its money men, Saleh Ezzedine.
- Because of U.S. sanctions on Hezbollah, wealthy Shiite families in the diaspora since have much diminished their support.
- Cash problems have prompted Hezbollah to turn a blind eye toward Shiite families in the Bekaa producing illicit drugs, on condition they provide Hezbollah with intelligence and a portion of the income.
- Its leader, Hassan Nasrallah, instructed a group of wives of Hezbollah operatives to "Stop taking advantage of party funds to play at being bourgeois."
- Nasrallah discovered after the assassination of his close ally Imad Mougnieh that Mougnieh had in fact betrayed by setting up his own structure within Hezbollah.
- The CIA has infiltrated Hezbollah.
Hamas: "Hamas in deep trouble" reads the headline. Good, as we would not want Hezbollah to feel lonely. Guy Bechor writes for Yedi'ot Aharonot that "behind the pretentious slogans lies a grim reality for Hamas that can no longer be hidden." Again, in bullet format:
- "Hamas' alliance with Iran has come to an end. … when Hamas refused Iran's orders to support the fading Bashar Assad, Tehran shut its door to the group. What's worse, the flow of money used by Hamas to pay some 50,000 officials and troops in Gaza has ended."
- "Hamas was also forced to leave the capital of its external leadership in Damascus" and Amman has not panned out.
- Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood wants respectability at this moment of its apparent victory and is keeping its distance from Hamas.
- At a time when Arab states are "contending with deep domestic problems," Hamas' problems are a luxury they cannot afford.
- As the domestic side of Hamas in Gaza (led by Ismail Haniyeh) gains power at the expense of the external version (led by Khaled Mashaal), a possible split looms ahead. Mashaal might quit Hamas and establish a rival group.
- The reconciliation with Fatah is going nowhere: "There is no possibility of holding elections, there is no possibility of rapprochement."
Comment: Hezbollah still enjoys a powerful position in Lebanon but the U.S.-led campaign against Tehran, Damascus, and itself seems slowly to be paying off. (January 27, 2012)
Related Topics: Lebanon, Palestinians
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