By: Diana Moukalled
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s recent statements about Iran’s funding of his party remind me of the slogans chanted in Tehran seven years ago. In 2009, Iranians not only chanted “death to the dictator” during their protests, but also slogans about freedom and living in dignity, including: “Neither Gaza nor Lebanon. I sacrifice my life for Iran.”
These protests marked Iranians’ first public rejection of their regime’s financial and military support of Hezbollah and Hamas. It is said that Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was angered by these slogans. The protests were suppressed and many were killed, hundreds arrested and dozens executed. Social media networks were banned and journalism, particularly online, was strictly supervised.
Nasrallah’s recent statement that “as long as Iran has money, we have money” reminds us of these protests. The issue of Iran’s generous funding of Hezbollah and other armed groups such as Hamas and those in Syria comes at a time when Iranians are suffering economically, and amid public fury over government officials’ huge salaries. It is difficult to place Nasrallah’s statements about massive Iranian funding outside that context.
Opposition figures inside and outside Iran have commented on the matter, as some have managed to bypass the ban on social networking sites. At this point, Nasrallah should stop bragging about Iranian generosity, particularly in light of the meager economic results so far from the nuclear deal.
Global companies have not headed to Tehran, and the world is still cautious about an economy controlled by security officials, and whose earnings are distributed among groups such as Hezbollah. Funding the party will keep Iran’s economy outside the natural economic cycle. Tehran will not be able to suppress protests against this, no matter how much the media is suffocated.
Al Arabiya /As Sharq al Awsat
Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV.
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