Hizballah operations will likely decline following US-imposed sanctions against Iran due to a lack of funding, spending cuts, and furloughed fighters. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) founded Hizballah in 1985 to use as a proxy and political force in the region. The IRGC has contributed at least $700 million a year to the group, accounting for approximately 70 percent of its yearly revenue.
In May 2018, the US Government placed new sanctions on Iran that targets its energy, shipping, and financial sectors following the United States’ withdrawal from the Iranian nuclear agreement of 2015. In May 2019, a senior Hizballah official stated, “There is no doubt these sanctions have had a negative impact,” which affected their living conditions, according to open source media. Additionally, Hizballah leader Hassan Nasrallah urged his members in March to fulfill their “religious duties” and supply funds to “a jihad of money” to build up the group’s dissipating revenue.
In addition to financing its terrorist operations, Hizballah uses funding for numerous supply programs, including groceries, medicine, and transportation for members and their families. It also funds a television station called Al-Manar. A Hizballah member told the media that Al-Manar fired employees and suspended programs due to a reduction in free services.
A Hizballah member claimed the group’s budget cuts forced it to furlough fighters and assign many to reserve positions with lower or nonexistent salaries, according to open sources. A Hizballah member in one of the group’s administrative units also confirmed that the fighters furloughed or put in reserves were in Syria, according to open source reporting. Nasrallah confirmed fighters have been taken out of Syria, stating, “We are still there, but we don’t need to be there in large numbers if there is no practical need.”