Key Points

But if the LAF does not take action, those making such arguments will eventually lose. More worryingly, the people of Lebanon will lose. The Iranian regime and Hezbollah will get the war they are looking for. And the LAF will have done nothing to stop it.

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Offering Lebanon help with COVID-19 testing kits and other medical gear is one thing. But a bailout without structural reform will mean perpetuating Lebanon’s corrupt system, on which Hezbollah’s criminal enterprise depends. Underwriting pro-Iranian political orders is not in the U.S. interest. This is as true during a public health crisis as when there is none. Washington’s priority must be to maintain maximum pressure on Iran and its regional allies from Tehran to Beirut.

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We should expect the disease to spread. Actually, it already has. Terrorists, criminals, and their neo-imperialist patrons in Tehran have been bringing death and destruction to Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Gaza – whomever and whatever they touch. There are means by which these vectors could be eliminated. Easy and painless they are not.

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Likewise, the priority for the U.S. is the intensification and success of its maximum pressure campaign against Iran. The focus should be on raising the heat on Iran and bankrupting it, so as to severely limit its means to project power abroad. While it is possible to envision a wide range of outcomes inside Iran, from the weakening or collapse of the current regime to its possible liberalization, the point of the ongoing pressure campaign is much simpler: To raise the relative costs of the regime’s foreign adventures to levels that it can’t sustain. Insofar as the popular protests in Iran, Iraq and Lebanon are challenging the Islamic Republic and its political order in Baghdad and Beirut, and thereby contributing to the pressure campaign, the U.S. ought to support the protesters, and not the state institutions trying to suppress them.

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Yet Israel’s security and diplomatic establishment should also pay attention to what the radical Shi’ite organization is doing in faraway places such as Latin America and West Africa, where its terror-financing networks are raising hundreds of millions of dollars a year to fund its military buildup and regional adventurism in the Middle East. These networks, which extend into Europe, have been used over the years to move drugs from Latin America to remote markets and launder the proceeds back to the cartels, minus the hefty commission retained by Hezbollah for its own financial needs.

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Projects