Destitute Hizbullah appeals for donations to equip fighters in Syria

By Nohad Topalian in Beirut

A Hizbullah banner on the road to Beirut's Rafic Hariri International Airport calls on party supporters to fund its fighters. [Nohad Topalian/Al-Mashareq]

A Hizbullah banner on the road to Beirut's Rafic Hariri International Airport calls on party supporters to fund its fighters. [Nohad Topalian/Al-Mashareq]

Financially strained due to international sanctions and its long involvement in the Syria war, Hizbullah has been soliciting funds to equip its fighters.

In February, the Hizbullah-affiliated Islamic Resistance Support Organisation (IRSO) launched a campaign that calls on party members and supporters to "Equip a Mujahid".

The IRSO pushed out the campaign on social media, using the hashtag Equip a Mujahid, and circulated a video in which party elder Sheikh Najib Saleh urges the supporters and sympathisers to donate.

It also recently hung massive banners in Beirut's southern suburbs and the party’s areas of influence showing an ill-equipped fighter alongside the words, "Money Jihad is a Duty -- the Equip a Mujahid Project".

In a June 5th report, An-Nahar newspaper quoted an IRSO official who declared that "every mujahid on the fronts of honour and dignity needs to be equipped with some clothing and equipment".

The cost of equipping a fighter was given as $1,000.

Party faces financial problems

The campaign seeks to urge Hizbullah’s base, especially the affluent, to donate money or military equipment to the mujahideen without reserve, said Nissrine Merheb, who covers Hizbullah for Al-Janoubia.

"The campaign also aims to pay the salaries of the fighters, arm them and provide them with what they need to fight in Syria," she told Al-Mashareq.

It comes in response to Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah's repeated declarations that "money jihad is a duty".

In a speech he delivered five months ago, Nasrallah confessed that "the party’s shirt is tighter than its body", said analyst and political activist Luqman Salim.

This was an outright admission that the party's available funds do not cover what is required for its fighters, he told Al-Mashareq.

That the campaign is continuing "is admission of the financial problems the party is facing, the high cost of its foreign wars and its need for money", he said.

Suspension of party programmes

"The intent of the Equip a Mujahid project is to [have supporters] donate money and equipment," Arab Centre for Dialogue and Studies head Abbas al-Jawhari told Al-Mashareq.

Hizbullah today distorts Islamic texts to incite, equip and invade, he said.

With these tools, al-Jawahari said, "the party seeks to garner the support of the public and the masses for its ideas and raise money from donors for this project".

Hizbullah's financial woes are evident, due to its suspension of social programmes and delay in paying its beneficiaries, including medical bills, he said.

"The militia fashions slogans to solicit support and backing, no matter how small, due to its need for money following the decline in support," he said.

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Halal livelihood is a blessing and forbidden livelihood will disappear like a mirage. Hizbulat will, God willing, disappear because its war is wrong and because killing Syrians is a curse that will haunt them until Judgement Day.