The plunging price of oil may do the long-term work for Israel and cripple Hezbollah, the Islamic State (ISIS) and other terrorist groups that owe their existence to income from oil.
The price of black gold has plunged by 50 percent in less than half a year, and all signs point to it remaining less than $50 a barrel, and possibly even dropping below $45.
Western sanctions have not harmed Iran enough for it to halt its development towards procuring a nuclear weapon, but a continuing slump on the oil market is more effective and non-negotiable.
Militarily, Israel on several occasions has bombed advanced weapons destined for Hezbollah, and on Sunday the IDF wiped out Iranian and Hezbollah commanders who were planning attacks on Israel.
However, Hezbollah still has approximately 150,000 missiles that its leader Hassan Nasrallah could launch a catastrophe in Israel.
The dizzying drop in the price of oil endangers the capabilities of Hezbollah and the very existence of the Islamic State.
Hezbollah has cut the salaries of some of its members, and one of its commanders told Newsweek, “There are many members…who are now paid their wages much later. Some are getting less money than before.”
Hezbollah uses oil revenues to finance its massive support system that has made it the de facto government in southern Lebanon, a system copied by Hamas in Gaza and in some parts of Judea and Samaria.
One widow in a Beirut suburb told Newsweek, “Our family only gets half of the medical care and medicine that we need. This used to come every month without any problems, but today we are suffering.”
On the political front, Hezbollah no longer can buy off allies the way it once did when oil was selling at $110 a barrel. At least two politicians said they now receive only half of the former $40,000 a month from Hezbollah.
“Salvaging the regime in Syria and fighting ISIS in Iraq have forced Iran to divert more resources away from Hezbollah at a time when the resource base in Iran is shrinking,” Hezbollah expert Randa Slim, a director at the Washington-based Middle East Institute, told The Christian Science Monitor.
One of the guiding hands behind the drop in the price of oil is none other than Saudi Arabia, which is no less afraid than Israel of Iranian and Islamic State ambitions.
The Saudis are the leading influence in OPEC and has not cut its production of oil to encourage a rise in prices.
Another victim of the dropping oil revenues is Russia, which has poured hundreds of millions of dollars to prop up the Assad regime in Syria, which is still less than Iran’s $1 billion to $2 billion monthly payments for military aid to Assad’s forces and salaries for Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Syria.
“Absent Iranian largesse, Assad would not be financially solvent today,” Karim Sadjadpour, a senior associate of the Middle East program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told the Monitor.
Although Hezbollah is far from bankrupt thanks to its huge investments and makes millions of dollars from drug smuggling and other illicit trade, the drop in oil revenues has increased pressure on senior officials to stuff more money in their own pockets.
The Monitor quoted one Lebanese politician as saying, “The whole thing is falling apart. It’s corruption on a cataclysmic scale.”