Treasure in the Midst of Syrian Chaos

As intense battles continue in Aleppo and Damascus and as the future of Syria remains uncertain, it is becoming clear who will ultimately lose this round in the Middle East Spring. Aside from the Assad Regime and his Alawite clan, if Syria falls into the hands of the opposition, the two biggest losers will be Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hezbollah. The two continue to fight despite the fact that it is unlikely that Assad will prevail, but at the same time they are also getting ready to cut their losses and focus on one important front: Intelligence. The Iran-Syria-Hezbollah triangle has been operating for decades, well before Bashar replaced his Father Hafiz Al-Assad in June 2000.

It is well known that Syria provided a safe haven for some of the most notorious Hezbollah terrorists. One such terrorist is Imad Mughniyeh who was linked to some of the worst attacks in America, Israel and even in Arab countries. Mughniyeh was eventually assassinated in 2008 in Damascus. Iran has been Hezbollah’s main sponsor since the early 1980s, contributing between 60 to 100 million dollars a year. A Pentagon report on the post-2006 Lebanon war period documents an increase of up to $200 million dollars in Hezbollah support from Iran, this in addition to millions more in weapons, training and logistical support. Hezbollah’s significant seed money helped them develop further sources of revenue. Hezbollah operates a drug trafficking operation that stretches from South America to Western Africa. These operations are headquartered in places like Brazil, where over 6 million people with Lebanese roots reside, and the Ivory Coast, home to 80,000 Lebanese residents. The RAND Corporation estimates that $20 million of Hezbollah’s funding each year is from the Tri-Border Area (Paraguay-Argentina-Brazil). In addition to using these funds to finance terrorist activities, Hezbollah also funnels them towards social welfare programs which help them maintain popularity and political influence in Lebanon.

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