Posted tagged ‘Iran sanctions’

Congress Concerned Another Obama ‘Secret Deal’ With Iran Derailed New Sanctions on Tehran

January 17, 2018

Congress Concerned Another Obama ‘Secret Deal’ With Iran Derailed New Sanctions on Tehran, Washington Free Beacon , January 17, 2018

Iranian students protest at the University of Tehran during a demonstration driven by anger over economic problems / Getty Images

Sources familiar with internal discussions over the IRIB issue told the Free Beacon that State Department officials have supported waiving sanctions on the Iranian broadcasting agency in order to uphold the 2013 agreement.

Officials claim there is no evidence Iran is jamming broadcasts and censoring content, despite repeated claims of such activity by Iranian protesters in the country, sources said.

However, there is mounting evidence that Iran continues to jam certain broadcasts and commit human rights abuses, according to experts.

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The Trump administration State Department is working to suppress new sanctions on Iran’s propaganda network that were promised to be implemented by the White House in response to a wave of protests that have gripped the Islamic Republic for weeks, according to multiple sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon about the matter.

The White House vowed in the opening days of Iran’s countrywide protests against the ruling government that it would take steps to level sanctions on the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, or IRIB, a satellite service that disseminates propaganda across Iran and routinely censors content.

While Iranian protesters and opponents of the country’s hardline government welcomed the White House’s decision, the State Department is believed to be working against the effort in order to uphold a little-known deal with Iran that was struck during the Obama administration.

The apparent reversal has raised questions in Congress about the nature of the agreement between the Obama administration and Iran that prevents new sanctions on the IRIB. It also has sparked criticism from regional experts who view the move as part of a bid by the State Department to continue appeasing the Iranian ruling regime at a time when dissidents are pleading for help from the United States.

The Obama administration struck a deal in 2013 with Iran that waived existing sanctions on the IRIB as part of an agreement reached under the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization, or ITSO.

Since that agreement, the United States has waived sanctions every 180 days on the IRIB, despite evidence it continues to censor content and jam broadcasts the hardline ruling regime finds unacceptable, sources said.

The little-known ITSO agreement with Iran is receiving new scrutiny as lawmakers try to determine how the Obama administration reached this deal and why many in Congress were never briefed on the matter.

“At such an important inflection point in Iranian history as brave Iranians are protesting an illegitimate tyranny, it defies logic that the State Department could be waiving sanctions to assist the Iranian regime,” Rep. Ron DeSantis (R., Fla.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs and Oversight Committees told the Free Beacon.

DeSantis is exploring avenues to obtain further information about the 2013 agreement and the context in which it was struck.

“Congress needs to get more information about this specific waiver and why waiving such sanctions is necessary at this moment given that the protesters are calling for more sanctions against the regime,” DeSantis said.

The White House signaled earlier this month, as the protests in Iran erupted, that it would no longer waive sanctions on the IRIB to boost the demonstrators and cut off the Islamic Republic’s chief propaganda organ.

However, the State Department favors continuing the waivers in order to uphold the Obama-era deal with Iran, according to multiple sources.

A State Department official acknowledged the existence of the deal, but would not provide the Free Beacon with details of the agreement, information on how it was struck, and whether Congress had a say in the matter.

This has raised even more questions with lawmakers and experts tracking the situation.

“The administration periodically renews the relevant sanctions waivers to allow international satellite companies to provide satellite broadcast service to IRIB in accordance with an understanding reached with the Iranian government under the auspices of the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO) in 2013, where Iran committed to ensure that harmful interference does not emanate from its territory,” a State Department official, speaking on background, told the Free Beacon.

This waiver must be renewed every 180 days, the official said.

It also remains unclear if the deal with Iran was struck under the auspices of the landmark nuclear agreement or the negotiations that led to it.

A Treasury Department official directed questions about the IRIB sanctions to the State Department, but told the Free Beacon the entity is still subject to some sanctions by the United States

“Treasury can confirm that IRIB is still designated pursuant to Executive Order 13628 and remains on our SDN [Specially Designated Nationals] List,” the official said, pointing to a 2013 announcement of actions against the broadcaster. “IRIB is subject to secondary sanctions for activity outside the scope of the State Department-issued waiver.”

Saeed Ghasseminejad, an Iran expert who tracks sanctions with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, expressed concern the Trump State Department is operating as if the Obama administration was still in power.

“The Iranian protesters specifically asked the Trump administration to ban the IRIB,” Ghasseminejad said. “Issuing a waiver for an entity whose job is to broadcast lies and promote violence against the protesters and pro-democracy movement in Iran and to prepare the ground for their arrest, torture, and execution is a slap in the protesters’ face.”

Former Secretary of State “John Kerry is gone and the United States has a new Iran policy but Foggy Bottom still follows the Obama era policy of appeasement,” he said.

Sources familiar with internal discussions over the IRIB issue told the Free Beacon that State Department officials have supported waiving sanctions on the Iranian broadcasting agency in order to uphold the 2013 agreement.

Officials claim there is no evidence Iran is jamming broadcasts and censoring content, despite repeated claims of such activity by Iranian protesters in the country, sources said.

However, there is mounting evidence that Iran continues to jam certain broadcasts and commit human rights abuses, according to experts.

Mahmood Enayat, director of the Small Media Foundation, an organization that advocates for the free flow of information in Iran, said satellite broadcasts are routinely jammed by the Iranian regime.

“Iran has certainly stopped orbital jamming but it has been continuing with terrestrial jamming, making it impossible for millions of Iranians to watch satellite TV channels broadcast from outside Iran, including VOA and BBC” said Enayat, who recently published a report on the matter.

Some insiders familiar with the agreement, which has not been mentioned in federal records since 2015, view it as another secret deal with Iran that was hidden from the American public, much like a series of secret side deals reached between the Obama administration and Iran as part of the nuclear deal.

One senior congressional official tracking the situation told the Free Beacon that lawmakers would try to scrap any previously unearthed secret agreements with Iran.

“As Iranians are protesting in the streets, our State Department is really considering waiving sanctions against the regime’s mouth piece?” the source asked. “We should be exerting maximum pressure on the regime and its backers, not letting them off the hook.”

“If this decision to take it easy on the regime’s broadcasting arm is pursuant to some secret side deal reached under the Obama administration, it’s time to expose this arrangement and terminate it, not abide by it,” added the source, who was not authorized to speak on record. “The State Department needs to get on the same page as the White House and start rolling out coherent Iran policy to push back against the regime.”

Iran: US sanctions against Ayatollah Larijani crossed red lines

January 13, 2018

Iran: US sanctions against Ayatollah Larijani crossed red lines, DEBKAfile, January 13, 2018

The Iranian Foreign Ministry warned Saturday that Tehran’s response to the Trump administration’s “hostile and illegal act” against chief justice Ayatollah Sadiq Larijani would be “severe.” Its sanctions list “has gone way beyond internationally accepted behavior and red lines,” the ministry said. “All consequences of this hostile act will be the responsibility of the United States.”

DEBKAfile: The sanctions list targeted Larijani – not only because he is one of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s closest associates, but as a deterrent. The chief justice is responsible for determining the fate of the nearly 4,000 demonstrators detained in the anti-government protests in the new year, amid reports of abuses and even deaths. It is hoped in Washington that Larijani will consider the tough penalties he faces if he hands out harsh punishments to the protesters.

Trump keeps Iran nuclear program, waives sanctions – for the last time

January 12, 2018

Trump keeps Iran nuclear program, waives sanctions – for the last time, DEBKAfile, January 12, 2018

Among the other entities blacklisted for sanctions are the Revolutionary Guards Corps cyber unit for repressing social media networks to suppress protest.

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US President Donald Trump Friday extended the waivers on Iran nuclear sanctions and kept alive the 2015 deal, but stressed this was for the last time – unless US and Europe can reach agreement on Iranian enrichment and ballistic missile development.  The US gave Europe 120 days to agree to overhaul the deal before the next deadline in May, or else the US would pull out. The US also imposed sanctions on 14 Iranian non-nuclear entities, including the powerful head of the judiciary, Ayatollah Sadeq Larijani, for human rights abuses against anti-government protesters. Among the other entities blacklisted for sanctions are the Revolutionary Guards Corps cyber unit for repressing social media networks to suppress protest.

The Trump administration also wants the “follow-on” deal to eliminate the “sunset clauses” of the current nuclear agreement, under which Iran is allowed to resume enrichment when the deal expires, and expanded inspections that could trigger re-imposed sanctions if Iran failed to comply.

The Ayatollah Empire Is Rotting Away

January 7, 2018

The Ayatollah Empire Is Rotting Away, TabletEdward N. Luttwak, January 7, 2018

 

There is no need to laboriously negotiate a new set of sanctions against Iran—strict, swift, and public enforcement of the restrictions that are already on the books is enough. Every time a South Korean regime-related deal is detected, the offenders need a quick reminder they will be excluded from the United States if they persist. In this, as in everything else, it is just a matter of getting serious in our focus on Iran.

Obama was serious in his courtship of the ayatollahs’ regime. Trump should do the same to bring the regime to an end, faster

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Ronald Reagan, who outraged the Washington elite and frightened European leaders by flatly refusing coexistence with the Soviet Union, lived to see its sudden decline and fall. There is a fair chance that Donald Trump, who contradicts Barack Obama and Europe’s leaders by refusing coexistence with Iran’s ayatollah empire, will also have the satisfaction of seeing the dissolution of a regime that Obama among many others preferred to accommodate.

Whether or not this past weekend’s mass demonstrations in Iran will spread, whether a second revolution is imminent or not, the numbers for the ayatollah empire just don’t add up. A breakdown is materially inevitable.

With some 80 million people, and with oil accounting for 80 percent of its exports, Iran would need to export some 25 million barrels a day to make a go of it, but it can barely export 2.5 million. That would be luxuriously ample for the likes of Abu Dhabi with fewer than 800,000 citizens, but it is a miserable pittance for Iran, with a population more than 100 times as large.

Iran cannot even match the $6,000 income per capita of Botswana. That most fashionable of safari destinations is a fine and well-governed country to be sure, and far from poor by African standards—but then its citizens are not required to pay for extensive nuclear installations, which are very costly to maintain even in their current semi-frozen state, or for the manufacture of a very broad range of weapons—from small arms to ballistic missiles—for which much expensive tooling is imported daily from the likes of our own dear ally South Korea. Neither is Botswana mounting large-scale military expeditions in support of a foreign dictator at war with 80 percent of his own population or providing generous funding for the world’s largest terrorist organization, Hezbollah, whose cocaine-smuggling networks and local extortion rackets cannot possibly cover tens of thousands of salaries. The ayatollah empire is doing all those things, which means that average Iranians are actually much poorer than their Botswanian counterparts.

You would never know it looking at photographs of Tehran, one more bombastic capital city fattened on intercepted oil revenues and graft, but Iran is dirt poor. I recently saw Iran’s general poverty at first-hand driving through one of Iran’s supposedly more prosperous rural districts. In an improvised small market next to a truck stop, several grown men were selling livestock side by side, namely ducks. Each had a stock of three or four ducks, which looked like their total inventory for the day.

That is what happens in an economy whose gross domestic product computes at under $6,000 per capita: very low productivity, very low incomes. The 500,000 or so Iranians employed in the country’s supposedly modern automobile industry are not productive enough to make exportable cars: Pistachio nuts are the country’s leading export, after oil and petroleum products.

The pistachios bring us directly to Iran’s second problem after not-enough-oil, namely too much thieving by the powerful, including pistachio-orchard-grabbing Akbar Hashemi “Rafsanjani,” former president and a top regime figure for decades.

Akbar Hashemi was not being immodest when he claimed the name of his native Rafsanjan province for himself. He became the owner of much of it as huge tracts of pistachio-growing orchards came into his possession.

His son Mehdi Hashemi is very prominent among the aghazadeh (“noble born”), the sons and daughters of the rulers. He preferred industrial wealth to pistachios, and his name kept coming up in other people’s corruption trials (one in France), until he finally had his own trial, for a mere $100 million or so. But the Rafsanjani clan as a whole took a couple of billion dollars at least.

The Supreme Leader Khamenei himself is not known to have personally stolen anything—he has his official palaces, after all. But his second son, Mojtaba, may have taken as much as $2 billion from the till, while his third son, Massoud, is making do with a mere 400- or 500-hundred million. His youngest son, Maitham, is not living in poverty either, with a couple of hundred million. The ayatollah’s two daughters, Bushra and Huda, each received de-facto dowries in the $100 million range.

This shows that the regime is headed by devoted family men who lovingly look after their many children, for whom only the best will do. It also cuts into the theoretical $6,000 income per Iranian head, because some “heads” are taking a thousand times as much and more.

That is one motive for today’s riots—bitter anger provoked by the regime’s impoverishing and very visible corruption, which extends far, far beyond the children of the top rulers: thousands of clerics are very affluent, starting with their flapping Loro Piana “Tasmania” robes—that’s 3,000 euros of fancy cloth right there.

Much of the economy is owned by bonyads, Islamic foundations that pay modest pensions to war widows and such, and very large amounts to those who run them, mostly clerics and their kin. The largest, the Mostazafan Bonyad, with more than 200,000 employees in some 350 separate companies in everything from farming to tourism, is a very generous employer for its crowds of clerical managers.

That is why the crowds have been shouting insults at the clerics—not all are corrupt, but high-living clerics are common enough to take a big bite out of that theoretical $6,000 per capita.

But the largest cause of popular anger is undoubtedly the pasdaran, a.k.a the Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), an altogether more costly lot than the several hundred aghazadeh or tens of thousands of high-living clerics. The IRGC’s tab starts with the trillion dollars or more that the pasdaran-provoked nuclear sanctions cost before the Obama team agreed to lift them and continues with the billions that Iran still loses annually because of the ballistic-missile sanctions that Trump will never lift. Then there are the variable costs of the pasdaran’s imperial adventures, as well as the fixed cost of pasdaran military industries that spend plenty on common weapons as well as on “stealth” fighters and supposedly advanced submarines that exist only in the fantasies of regime propagandists. Pasdaran militarism and imperial adventures are unaffordable luxuries that the demonstrators very clearly want to do without—hence their shouts of “no-Gaza, no-Syria.”

Whatever happens next—and at least this time the White House will not be complicit if it ends in brutal repression—the ayatollah empire cannot last. Even despite Obama’s generous courtship gifts, the Iranian regime cannot just keep going, any more than the USSR could keep going by living off its oil.

So what can be done to accelerate the collapse? Broad economic sanctions are out of the question because they would allow the rulers to blame the Americans for the hardships inflicted by their own imperial adventures. But there is plenty of room for targeted measures against regime figures and their associates—the State Department list of sanctioned individuals is far from long enough, with many more names deserving of the honor. (Iran is not North Korea; it is not hard to find names and assets and to make them public.)

Above all, very much more could be done to impede the pasdaran and their military industries. Many European and Japanese big-name companies are staying away from Iran because the missile and terrorism sanctions persist—and to avoid displeasing the United States. They should. But the South Koreans whom we defend with our own troops totally ignore U.S. interests in regard to Iran and have therefore emerged as the lead suppliers of machinery and tooling for the pasdaran weapon factories. Nor do they hesitate to sell equipment that can be adapted to military use in a minute or less, as in the case of the airfield instrument landing system and portable ILS/VOR signal analyzer that the Korea Airports Corp. has just agreed to supply to Iran’s Tolid Malzomat Bargh.

There is no need to laboriously negotiate a new set of sanctions against Iran—strict, swift, and public enforcement of the restrictions that are already on the books is enough. Every time a South Korean regime-related deal is detected, the offenders need a quick reminder they will be excluded from the United States if they persist. In this, as in everything else, it is just a matter of getting serious in our focus on Iran.

Obama was serious in his courtship of the ayatollahs’ regime. Trump should do the same to bring the regime to an end, faster.

Act 2 of Trump clampdown on Iran: Re-imposing sanctions lifted under nuclear accord

January 6, 2018

Act 2 of Trump clampdown on Iran: Re-imposing sanctions lifted under nuclear accord, DEBKAfile, January 6, 2018

On the heels of the first protests to hit the Iranian regime, Washington will turn the screw by negating financial benefits afforded by the nuclear deal.  To this end, President Donald Trump will use the deadlines he faces as of next week for certifying the Iranian nuclear deal and approving sanctions waivers. This intent was indicated by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in an AP interview Friday, Jan. 5.

Since the president had demanded that the 2015 nuclear accord with Iran be either “fixed or cancelled,” Tillerson said the administration was working with lawmakers on legislation for making it more acceptable to the president. Last October, Trump reluctantly waived sanctions for another three months. However, since sanctions relief was not incorporated in the nuclear deal, which Iran signed with six world nations three years ago, the US may set them aside without being accused of non-compliance. The US may therefore certify the framework while emptying it of the economic benefits the Obama administration granted, which funneled hundreds of billions of dollars to the Iranian treasury.

This is what Tillerson meant by “fixing” rather than “cancelling” the nuclear accord. He is charged with reformulating the deal, while upholding the Trump policy for countering Iran’s regional aggression and continuing support for anti-regime protests. These steps are components of the drawn-out, staged war of attrition the Trump administration has begun orchestrating against the revolutionary Shiite regime in Tehran for the year of 2018.

The following steps are already in the pipeline, DEBKAfile reports:

  1. President Trump may refrain this time from signing on to the sanction waivers, but may re-certify Iran’s compliance with the accord.
  2. The US Treasury Department has meanwhile announced new sanctions targeting banks, financial entities and officials – whether involved in Iran’s missile program or propping up the Revolutionary Guard Corps and its actions to suppress popular dissent.
  3. Washington will likewise target entities in the Middle East and beyond that serve Tehran and receive Iranian financial assistance and weapons. Examples are Lebanon, Hizballah, the Iraqi Shiite militias under Iranian command, Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and others.
  4. A broad US strategy is now in place for halting or slashing American aid programs to entities and governments which refuse to cooperate with the administration’s policy objectives.
  5. Donald Trump’s original plan was to work closely with the Europeans on his drive against Iran. Since the European governments have not only opted out of cooperation but are flatly opposed to US support for the Iranian protesters, Washington is forging ahead on its own, without reference to any European capital.
    Trump has thus scrapped one of the basic principles which gave birth to the nuclear accord, close cooperation between the US, Russia and the leading European powers.
  6. The breakup of this transatlantic partnership confronts Russia’s Vladimir Putin with a dilemma. Lining up with Europe on Iran would place Moscow on a collision course with the Trump administration. That Moscow knows exactly what is at stake was evident in the remarks made by Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Jan. 4, in response to Washington’s call for a UN Security Council to discuss repression in Iran: “We warn the US against attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” He also cautioned Washington against being “tempted to use the moment to raise new issues with regard to the JCPOA (the 2015 nuclear accord.)

New US Policy Confronts Iranian Regime, Opening up New Opportunities for Change

November 4, 2017

New US Policy Confronts Iranian Regime, Opening up New Opportunities for Change, Iran News Update, November 4, 2017

It appears that the only options left with Iranian authorities are confronting, retreating, or buying time until the end of the Trump presidency. Still, the regime must face the other factors at work against it, like the social disaffection within Iran towards the regime, and the recognition of the main opposition movements — the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and People’s Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI) — by US and its allies in the region.

There is now an opportunity, with the current international situation, for the Iranian people and its main opposition movement (NCRI and PMOI), as well as for the people of Middle East and the whole world, for these factors that can lead to regime change and put an end to Iran’s destabilization activities in the Middle East.

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INU – Saudi Arabia and Egypt, important countries in the region, concerned about the destabilizing activities of the Iranian regime in the Arab world, have strongly welcomed the October 13th announcement by US President Trump his regarding his new policy against the destabilizing behavior of Iran in the Middle East, particularly its missile activities. The new policy emphasized making the Middl#$e East a region without weapons of mass destruction.

The Iranian opposition movement and its President-elect, Maryam Rajavi, is leading a campaign to isolate the regime in Tehran. It welcomes the new White House strategy that delegitimizes the Iranian regime. Rajavi called on Trump and the international community to work toward “the ultimate solution”, regime overthrow and the establishment of freedom and democracy in Iran.

By refusing to give approval to the nuclear deal, and designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the list of terrorist organizations, the new US policy is targeting at the heart of the Iranian regime. According to the Washington Post the strategy marks an important change in US policy on the Middle East: a shift from focusing on war against ISIS and towards the end of Iran’s expansionism in the region.

The steps taken by the White House to carry out this policy include the visit by US Secretary of State to Saudi Arabia and other countries in the region, imposition of sanctions on Hezbollah for being the military wing of IRGC in Lebanon, and sanctions on companies, financial institutions and individuals related to the regime’s ballistic missiles programs.

According to F. Mahmoudi, Kurdish-Iranian political and human rights activist, in his Al Arabiya article, “Therefore, there is no reason for any objection by European countries to the new White House policy. European states are only thinking of securing their financial and economic interests with Iran, as not only the political and military power of the Iranian regime but also economic control lie in the hands of the IRGC.”

Sanctions against the Iranian regime, IRGC and Hezbollah will put European companies and banks in serious danger if they deal with this regime and its affiliates.

Additionally, the sanctions and the terrorist designation of IRGC have put Hasan Rouhani, who earlier presented himself to the West as a moderate, in a position of fully supporting the IRGC.

Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, reacting to the new US strategy, defended the IRGC’s presence in Iraq, Syria and Yemen and asked Europeans to stand strongly against Trump’s policy. However, it is believed that Europe will eventually choose the US instead of Iran and it will not sacrifice billion of dollars in trade benefits with the US. Additionally, Europe cannot accept the risk of Trump’s threat of leaving NATO.

It appears that the only options left with Iranian authorities are confronting, retreating, or buying time until the end of the Trump presidency. Still, the regime must face the other factors at work against it, like the social disaffection within Iran towards the regime, and the recognition of the main opposition movements — the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and People’s Mujahideen of Iran (PMOI) — by US and its allies in the region.

There is now an opportunity, with the current international situation, for the Iranian people and its main opposition movement (NCRI and PMOI), as well as for the people of Middle East and the whole world, for these factors that can lead to regime change and put an end to Iran’s destabilization activities in the Middle East.

Sanctions on Hizbollah Unanimously Passed by US Congress

October 27, 2017

Sanctions on Hizbollah Unanimously Passed by US Congress, Iran News Update, October 26, 2017

(Please see also, Hezbollah denounces US sanctions bill targeting its cash flow. — DM)

The bills will now move to the Senate where another vote is expected, before the new legislations are sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law. This process is expected to take approximately one month.

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INU – US escalation toward the Iranian government and the Lebanese Hizbollah moved forward when on Wednesday, Democratic and Republican members of Congress unanimously voted through measures designed to curb Iran’s ballistic missile program and Hizbollah’s funding. Three resolutions were approved, after nearly six months of deliberations and amendments, that tighten the economic screws on Tehran and the Shiite militant party.

Democratic and Republican members of Congress unanimously voted orally in unison, and passed the following resolutions: 1- H.R 359 – Urging the European Union to designate Hizbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization; 2-H.R. 3342 – Sanctioning Hizbollah’s Illicit Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act; 3-H.R. 3329 – Hizbollah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2017 (HIFPA).

On Thursday, Members will vote on Resolution H.R. 1698 – Iran Ballistic Missiles and International Sanctions Enforcement Act. These Ballistic missile sanctions put a stop to any outside support for Iran’s missile program, and are significant in terms of timing and efforts by the Trump administration to push for concessions from Tehran on the issue.

In terms of scope and reach of the proposed sanctions, the HIFPA bill represents the largest escalation against Hizbollah. It authorizes new sanctions against the group and its financial networks, and it requires the US president to release an annual estimate of the net worth of Hizbollah leaders and backers, including its secretary general Hassan Nasrallah.

Also targeted by the bill are Hizbollah affiliates, including Bayt Al Mal, Jihad Al Bina, the Islamic Resistance Support Association, the Foreign Relations Department of Hizbollah, the External Security Organization of Hizbollah, and its media outlets — Al Manar TV and Al Nour Radio.

An expert on Hizbollah at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Hanin Ghaddar, said that “official Lebanese visits to Washington in 2017 have somehow succeeded in protecting the Lebanese banks from these sanctions.” She added, “But that doesn’t mean that Lebanon’s economy won’t be affected.”

Joseph Bahout of The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace agrees with Ghaddar. He said “Hizbollah itself has mastered new financial engineering to navigate through sanctions but the real impact will be felt on banking system in Lebanon.” Mr Bahout continued, “If the Lebanese banks were to fully implement all the measures [requested under HIFPA] lots of foreign capital would flee the system.”

Hassan Nasrallah, an Hizbollah leader, previously boasted that “all the banks of the world cannot stand as an obstacle to Hizbollah.” He said, “As long as there is money in Iran, we will have money.”

Ms. Ghaddar said, “Hizbollah will not be directly affected as we all know how money comes from Iran — in bags — and sanctions won’t stop this flow.” However, she also said that this may hurt Hizbollah, as “its backers’ financial assets will have to be revealed, and its institutions will be sanctioned, this will create a serious gap and mistrust between Hizbollah and its community.” Ms. Ghaddar added that as a result, many in business community “will try to distance themselves from Hizbollah for fears of sanctions.”

Mr. Bahout said HIFPA may complicate Hizbollah’s activities locally, “like paying employees of their agencies [that are targeted] or doing business with organizations, commerce tied to them, and a whole range of minute day-to-day annoyances that could follow.”

There are concerns over possible Hizbollah retaliation. Ms. Ghaddar pointed out that the last time a lighter version of HIFPA passed in 2015, “Blom bank in Verdun was blown up few months after.”

The bills will now move to the Senate where another vote is expected, before the new legislations are sent to the President’s desk to be signed into law. This process is expected to take approximately one month.