The Lebanese resistance and US sanctions: The lost compass

“Proxy”, “foreign agenda”, “terrorist organization”, “Iran-backed” are words that the western mainstream media use when looking up the resistance movement’s name “Hezbollah” online. Repetitive media campaigns have been launched against Hezbollah attributing a variety of negative attributes to the organization. Sanctions have been imposed on the group in an attempt to allegedly “curb” its strength and movement. But the one thing mainstream media fails to mention is when and why did this movement come to life.

The Lebanese resistance movement that was first established in the early 80s was found to defend Lebanon from the “Israeli” occupation of its territory which lasted for years. The movement is a nationally recognized party that has members in the cabinet, the ministerial council, and all other governmental bodies and apparatuses.

Visualize the scene: In 1982, military troops, vehicles, and tanks entered Lebanon, reached the capital Beirut and were stationed in different posts. The country that was once the “Bride of the Middle East” was turning into piles of rubble and witnessing showers of blood due to the aggressive bombing of Israeli warplanes and the vicious atrocities committed by their boots on the ground. Hundreds became “guests” in detention centers and were welcomed with lashes, torture, sexual abuse, sexual abuse of family members, and even death. Lebanese people who continue to be supporters of the resistance movement well remember those bitter moments of occupation and humiliation. When the Israeli forces entered Lebanon at the time they end all forms of decent life and freedom for Muslims and Christians alike in this country that was also under distress due to a bloody civil war.

The resistance appeared, because the people of Lebanon had rejected to passively accept an unjust occupation and illegitimate oppression on their own land by a foreign regime. The overarching aims of this resistance were and still are defensive or pre-emptive; the party has never started a war but rather repelled several aggressions. Even when it comes to the Syrian war and all the talk dedicated to attacking the stance of the Lebanese resistance movement and claims that it is meddling in Syrian affairs, Hezbollah has explained numerous times that its move was pre-emptive as it had to prevent the Wahhabi al-Qaeda linked groups from adding Lebanon to the list of countries witnessing dark tragedies including displacement, destruction, and cold-blooded atrocities like the beheadings and the burning-alive of people that we witnessed in Syria and Iraq. There was no option but to stand and block the establishment of a Wahhabi emirate on Lebanon’s soil.

The western mainstream media repeats over and over again that Iran dictates to the resistance party each and every move it make, though never providing evidence for their accusations. The impact of the Islamic Revolution of Iran and its ideals that focus on “supporting the oppressed around the globe” and “the battle between the oppressor and the oppressed” is undeniable, but that does not negate the fact that the will of the people in Lebanon who suffered bitterly due to the Israeli regime’s occupation, killing, bombing, detention and destruction was a major drive behind a resistance movement that was able to defeat the occupation army that was once described as ‘invincible’.

In yet another move by the apartheid regime’s top ally to put pressure on Hezbollah and its allies, the US imposes new sanctions on the organization, as US State Department spokesman John Kirby claimed that “these regulations are a continuation of the US government’s efforts against Hezbollah in an attempt to go after the organization and its support apparatus worldwide.”

Today, the US brings into action its unanimously voted decision of 2015 to impose tough sanctions against those that knowingly do business with the movement. The move does not come out of the blue, but rather it comes in the context of a coordinated campaign against the resistance movement in cooperation with Arab Persian Gulf monarchies that are outraged because of the nuclear deal that was sealed between Iran and the P 5 plus 1 last May.

With the arrival of March 2016, Saudi-affiliated media outlets including the al-Arabia news channel and the Middle East Broadcasting Center launched another spiteful campaign against Hezbollah, letting out a stream of invectives against the movement.

Also, on March 2, the GCC countries decided to label the resistance movement as a terrorist organization including all its branches and personnel. On April 5, more pressure was imposed as al-Manar TV was blocked on the Egyptian-based satellite NileSat (Egypt has a Saudi-backed government). The satellite provider followed the lead of the Saudi-based Arabsat that had also blocked al-Manar last November.

For years now, Lebanese Shia civilians who have repeatedly reiterated that they are not members of Hezbollah have been deported from Persian Gulf countries. The latest of such deportations was announced on March 28, when Kuwait declared it will deport and revoke the permanent residency of 60 Lebanese people, claiming that they are somehow linked to the resistance movement.

Three days after the US treasury department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC, issued regulations aimed at implementing the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act, Lebanon’s central bank governor Riad Salameh said that bank officials are studying the regulations issued and assured the Americans that Beirut would abide by the US law which imposes sanctions on banks that knowingly do business with Hezbollah.

US President Barack Obama signed the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act on Dec. 18, 2015. Since then, Lebanese officials and bankers have been flying to Washington to discuss the move with American officials. The move came even though the Hezbollah Secretary General Sayed Hassan Nasrallah assured everyone in one of his speeches that “We have no money in Lebanese banks, neither in the past nor now,” adding “We don’t transfer our money through the Lebanese banking system.”

The war against the resistance is expected to get only harsher, with Saudi Arabia escalating its aggressive posturing and support for extremism across the region. The US, Saudi Arabia and their allies seem to have lost their bearings, because such a campaign against this non-state actor which stands firm in self-defense and is a legitimate member of the Lebanese government takes place at the time when the real threat from terrorism comes from ISIL and al-Qaeda linked groups that have been financially and logistically supported by the US, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and their allies.

This article was written by Heba Morad for American Herald Tribune on Apr. 24, 2016. Heba is a freelance writer.