While Lebanon seeks ways out of its worst financial crisis in decades, Hizbullah continues to pose a threat to efforts by the government and the international community to mitigate the effects of the crisis, experts told Al-Mashareq.
Hizbullah and its sponsor Iran do not prioritise Lebanon's interests, they said, as the militia continues to partake in smuggling operations that funnel Lebanon's resources to war-torn Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad.
Lebanon is currently "a state within Hizbullah's statelet which is using the country's economy" to advance its own agenda and that of the Iranian regime, said former minister May Chidiac.
The party is turning Lebanon into "a failed state" because it is standing in the way of reforms and the closure of illegal border crossings and legal crossings under its control, which it uses to carry out smuggling to Syria, she said.
"The party has created a parallel market through which it brings in weapons and smuggled goods," she told Al-Mashareq, adding that Hizbullah has been exploiting Lebanon's corruption to suppress detractors.
Its policy is based on "striking Lebanon's interests and resources for the benefit of Syria and Iran", she said, noting that when the government announced the need to control all illegal crossings, the party's secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah instead called for the normalisation of ties with Syria.
"Hizbullah owes its loyalty to Iran, and is indifferent toward Lebanon's interests and the international efforts underway to help it recover from its crisis," she added.
Hizbullah and Iran seek to deprive Lebanon of financial support from donor countries, similar to what happened with the funds pledged during the April 2018 Cèdre conference of international investors, said Chidiac.
The party is continuing with its harmful actions despite the sanctions imposed on it by the international community, she said, adding that Hizbullah is implementing the policy of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in the region.
"The party is heavily engaged in smuggling foreign currency to Syria," she said, noting that it sent billions of dollars to Syria "instead of contributing to solving our crisis".
Iran, Hizbullah's indifference
Hizbullah's political hegemony and its arsenal of illegal weapons undermine Lebanon's sovereignty, said Lebanese security expert Naji Malaeb.
The militia's Iran-backed actions have isolated Lebanon and cost it Arab and Western support for its economy, he told Al-Mashareq.
"Hizbullah and Iran are apathetic about Lebanon's economic and financial deterioration and are squandering all its resources for Syria's benefit by smuggling goods, oil and dollars to that country via legal and illegal border crossings," he said.
"While Lebanon negotiates with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to get out of its [financial] crisis, Hizbullah is putting obstacles in the way of any solution to the crisis, and consequently threatening all international efforts to tackle it," Malaeb said.
"Lebanon, under Iranian hegemony facilitated by Hizbullah, is heading toward becoming a failed state," he said.
Hizbullah's priority lies not into "building a strong Lebanese state and economy, but rather into building an armed military force that takes advantage of Lebanon's weakness and creates an extension of itself outside its borders", Shia opposition figure Ali al-Amin told Al-Mashareq.
Al-Amin warned that Lebanon's economic and financial situation will only get worse if Hizbullah keeps following the course of political corruption and squandering Lebanon's resources by smuggling them into Syria.
Hizbullah and Iran's policy is indifferent to Lebanon's interests and to international efforts being made to find solutions to the country's financial woes, he said.
This was also manifest in Iran's recent actions during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, he added, as Iranian carrier Mahan Air continued to operate flights to Lebanon despite government flight bans.
"Iran continued to operate flights to Lebanon after the outbreak of the coronavirus, thus contributing to its spread in Lebanon," said al-Amin.
It is clear that neither Hizbullah, nor Iran, wants any real solution to Lebanon's problems, he added.