US banking sanctions, though effective, counter-productive when effectively targeting a whole confession i.e. Shia
I wrote about this issue in February for Newsweek Middle East. It seems that the blunter side of the US sanctioning law vis-a-vis foreign banks is indeed being felt, unfortunately.
The problem is that the US law could have been more narrowly implemented so that Shia are not made to feel the brunt of the impact (since Hezbollah is not believed to have direct accounts in Lebanese banks).
For those that think this is just fine – they should “suffer anyway” since they are somehow not opposing Hezbollah enough – I would argue the practical angle (though the moral one obtains as well): In the end, these tools – bringing pressure on a whole community which is supposed to rid “the cancer within” – almost ALWAYS backfires. Instead communal loyalty is consecrated and a multiplicity of viewpoints is sublimated in the quite rational and collective interest of self-preservation.
This is precisely what happened during the “Ceder Revolution” which – with US help – rather obtusely pushed all the Shiites out (save for some “tokens”) and branded the community as a pro-Hezbollah, pro-Syrian blob. The result of this dynamic was a disaster.
This from Asharq al-Awsat May 29:
“…Hezbollah MPs – who are part of the Loyalty to the Resistance bloc (Hezbollah’s political wing in the Lebanese parliament) – told Al-Sharq al-Awsat that this issue did not stop at the official level but also included health, social, media and development institutions which are administratively part of Hezbollah.
“We are exerting huge efforts to contain anger on the street due to the sanctions and harsh measures taken,” one source said.
“Shi’i merchants are suffering from measures adopted against them by banks, particularly those who live in Hezbollah stronghold of Dahiyah, the southern suburb of Beirut. These people have been subject to marathon questioning when receiving foreign transfers and they sometimes cannot receive the transfers to their accounts. They are almost entirely relying in the transfer issue on their partners, especially Christian ones,” the report continued…”