As the American, Arab, and Gulf embargo on Assad’s regime intensifies, their need for foreign currency—dollars—increases. Dollars are crucial for the importation of industrial capital goods, oil and its derivatives, as well as medical and surgical products and their raw material; especially during a time of Covid-exacerbated crisis!
Due to the inability to secure economic solutions or maintaining the dollar exchange rate by increasing its supply, the Syrian regime is floundering and dumping their shortcomings on Lebanon, Hezbollah, and Iran. Additionally, the regime is working hard to overcome the test of the upcoming presidential elections and to prevent a full-blown disaster. Economic indicators in Syria are reaching dangerous levels, and are no better than those in Lebanon. The central bank reserves of foreign currency are dwindling and approaching zero!
A Growing Hostility between Hezbollah and the Syrians!
Due to the issue of smuggling, hostility between the Syrian Intelligence and Syrian Army with Hezbollah and their smugglers from Bekaa has been growing! Hezbollah have established new smuggling routes that the Syrian regime does not benefit from, despite the regime being a long term partner and enabler of these operations. Official complaints were also on the rise due to the rate of smuggling of Syrian products (Food, medicine, clothes…) into Lebanon. The Syrian regime has accused Lebanon and Hezbollah of curtailing the Syrian economy and creating pressure on the market which is already short of foreign currency. This is in spite of the fact that the smuggling of food, gasoline, and medicine from Lebanon is costing the country millions of dollars every day as well!
A Novel Method by Hezbollah!
Despite the tragic circumstances in Syria and Lebanon and while Hezbollah has initiated a critical food support program, the rate of smuggling between the two countries has increased. As a result, Hezbollah have resorted to new methods to cover the shortages of their troops and their families. According to sources, Hezbollah has been using their members to bring in these goods. They are reducing these mass smuggling operations in favor of small individual ones whereby every Hezbollah member comes from Syria bringing in a personal allowable quantity of these good through for themselves as well as family and friends.
Since there is a significant number of rotations constantly occurring between these fighters in Syria, as hundreds of them are constantly going in and out every day, smuggling remains active from Syria into Lebanon. All excess goods brought in are then sold at exorbitant prices in Hezbollah’s cooperatives in Bekaa and the South!