US Banking sanctions are affecting Shiites as a group, a negative (and predictable) result that actually undercuts US purpose
In February, when I wrote this piece for Newsweek – http://newsweekme.com/weaponizing-global-finance/ , we were told by Central Bank officials and by Treasury officials that the law was not intended and would not affect Shiites as Shiites. As predicted, the law is now targeting the community as a whole (see Naharnet excerpt below).
I do believe that weaponzing global finance is an effective, non-violent tool to address US interests. My argument is that in the case of the recent Hezbollah/Financial sanctions law passed by Congress in December 2015, the purpose and the result has been targeting a whole community – and that we know historically when this happens it actually produces a tightening of community solidarity and anger. Over and over again, the Israelis tried this tactic and it fails – in Lebanon as a whole and when targeting specific ethnic or religious groups.
The tactic failed spectacularly during the Ceder Revolution when March 14 obtusely lumped all the shiites together, with US/Bush admin backing and effectively pushed the community closer together, sublimating important differences. I wrote about this for new America Foundation here in 2008/2009:
Had Marco Rubio and various pro-military intervention folks in DC wanted to, they could have more narrowly designed the legislation so that the problems we see today (and opportunities from Hezbollah’s vantage) would not have happened. It would have been less sweeping but ultimately more effective (especially if combined with other non-military policies).
The Association of Banks in Lebanon has meanwhile asked Salameh to “establish a direct channel of communication with Hizbullah” after bankers agreed during their meetings on Monday that “there can be no stability without offering guarantees to Shiites,” al-Akhbar said.
The daily also quoted sources close to Hizbullah as saying that the party will soon submit a paper to Salameh that is aimed at “clarifying any ambiguities regarding the implementation of the Central Bank’s memos.”
“Our priority is to keep Lebanon on the international financial map so we have taken a resolution that we will implement that U.S. law in Lebanon and we have put in place a structure to do it to satisfy the objectives of that law and at the same time preserve the rights of the Shiites to have access to the banks,” Salameh told CNBC on Wednesday, in remarks published on the TV network’s website.