Security, Political Messages behind Hezbollah’s Threat to Lebanese Banks
Tuesday, 15 October, 2019 - 06:15
Beirut - Youssef Diab - Asharq Al-Awsat
Hezbollah’s threats to take to the streets to confront Lebanese bank
measures hold security and political messages to local and foreign powers.
The Iran-backed party had threatened to stage protests against banks that
adhere to US sanctions against its leaders and economic institutions.
The threat had alarmed observers, who expressed their concern that Iran may
seize control of Lebanon’s financial stability in order to draw Washington’s
attention and lure it to the negotiations table.
The pro-Hezbollah local Lebanese daily, al-Akhbar, revealed that the party
leadership has outlined several steps, including street protests to confront
The party will not stand idly by as the banks and other institutions adhere
to American sanctions, it reported.
The daily said the party had taken the decision to confront the banks, but
it has yet to decide on the way to do so.
While the party fell short on announcing the date for such rallies, a
banking source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Hezbollah threat jeopardizes
security and “gives its supporters the green light to attack and storm
“There are no fears on the financial sector and people’s deposits in the
banks where liquidity is available,” it added. “However, any street protest
would create concern and confusion among the people.”
“Banks play no role in the sanctions,” he stressed, saying people should
instead protest against officials who have driven Lebanon to the abyss.
Economic expert Dr. Sami Nader told Asharq Al-Awsat that Hezbollah’s message
is primarily aimed against the US, saying that it can target two Lebanese
institutions that Washington deems a red line: The Lebanese army and banking
Hezbollah previously attempted to target Army Commander General Joseph Aoun
when it brought up the case of Amer al-Fakhoury, a Lebanese who had
collaborated with Israel, he explained.
The party failed in its efforts and therefore, now set its sights on the
banking sector, he noted.
Nader wondered whether Lebanese banks should refuse to abide by the US
sanctions and suffer the same fate as the Jammal Trust Bank that liquidated
itself last month.
The political aspect of Hezbollah’s threats is related to the ongoing US
conflict with Iran.
Coordinator of the March 14 General Secretariat, former deputy Fares Souaid
told Asharq Al-Awsat on Monday that the party follows Iranian instructions.
He said Tehran wants to attract the attention of the US and the world by
creating tensions and destabilizing the Arab world.
He said that Iran started with the “war on tankers, then attacked Aramco
facilities in Saudi Arabia and is now trying to manipulate Lebanon’s
“Washington is aware that the banks are the backbone of Lebanon’s financial
and economic stability and there are concerns that Iran would fulfill its
pledge to target the banks. However, the US will not come to the rescue of
the banking sector,” he warned.
“We take these threats seriously and realize that the US is not concerned
with saving the sector,” he continued, while questioning the government’s
silence over the issue.
“Lebanon is now hostage to Iran’s wishes with the approval of some
government forces, especially the Free Patriotic Movement, headed by Gebran
Bassil,” Souaid said.