The US congress will amend the 2015 HR2297, Hezbollah Financing Prevention Act (HIFPA), aimed at preventing Hezbollah and associated entities from gaining access to international financial and other institutions, According to a US-based source who spoke to the Lebanese daily Annahar. The new amendments are the latest attempt to tighten the noose on Iran’s proxy terror group, as part of a Trump Administration “broader strategy” targeting Tehran and its satellites.
“The amendments expand the list of entities that may face sanctions for providing support for Hezbollah and significantly bolsters reporting on the financial activities of the party’s affiliated entities and even political allies,” according to a draft copy of the 2017 act obtained by Annahar, the improved HIFPA will be based on a report from the Secretary of the Treasury assessing the net worth of Hezbollah members. The report describes “how funds of each individual were acquired and how such funds have been used or employed,” and includes Lebanese Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri’s Amal Movement and “other associated entities that the Secretary determines to be appropriate.”
The new act will expand sanctions beyond foreign central banks and financial institutions, to “any agency and instrumentality of a foreign state” which “knowingly and materially assisted, sponsored, or provided significant financial material, or technological support for, goods or services to or in support of, or arms or related material to, Hezbollah or an entity owned or controlled by Hezbollah; or has acted or purported to act for or on behalf of Hezbollah.”
Lebanese corporations and financial institutions will surely find themselves squeezed between an American rock and a Hezbollah hard place, according to a Lebanese banker who spoke to Annahar. Already the closure of about 100 Lebanese accounts in compliance with HIFPA has brought on an irate Hezbollah (verbal) attack on the Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh, whose position, they say, “was ambiguous and suspicious and it demonstrates that the state’s monetary policy is no longer subject to the norms of national sovereignty.”
And words have already led to action, as the headquarters of BLOM bank in Beirut have bombed by Hezbollah agents, but in a manner that did not cause casualties. BLOM was the leader of an effort to comply with the US demands by dumping its Hezbollah accounts.
Finally, the 2017 HIFPA will reportedly see no distinction between a “civilian” and “military” Hezbollah, lumping together any person who “assists, sponsors, or provides financial, material, or technological support” for al-Manar TV, al Nour Radio, the Lebanese Media Group, Bayt al-Mal, Jihad al-Bina, or a non-Lebanese fundraising for Hezbollah. They’re all equally part of the enemy.