U.S. Special Representative for Iran and Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State, Brian Hook, said that Washington's sanctions are "draining Iran’s support to its proxies", stressing that these groups have now less access to revenue.
"For the first time in a very long time, they have less access to revenue to spread terror and militancy," Hook said in the U.S. State Department's press briefing.
"In March, Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanese Hezbollah, publicly appealed for donations for the first time ever. He has been forced to undertake unprecedented austerity measures," he noted.
Hook pointed out that there are reports that some Hezbollah fighters are receiving half of their pay, and that others are only being paid $200 a month.
Other Hezbollah employees report receiving 60 percent of their normal monthly salaries, he added.
"A new analysis released last month by the Washington Institute corroborates these findings. Hezbollah has closed almost a thousand offices and paused hiring of new personnel. The report further concludes that Hezbollah itself attributes this belt-tightening to U.S. sanctions on Iran, which has historically provided the group with $700 million annually. That is 70 percent of Hezbollah’s entire budget," he elaborated.
Hook said that Hezbollah is not alone in feeling the strain of American sanctions, adding that Iranian proxies in Syria and elsewhere are experiencing a lack of funding from Tehran.
"Fighters are going unpaid, and the services they once relied upon are drying up. Last week The New York Times quoted a Shia fighter in Syria who said that, quote, “The golden days are gone and will never return. Iran doesn’t have enough money to give us.”
"We are working with our allies and partners to make this the new norm," Hook affirmed. "We have acted with them to disrupt Iran’s illicit oil shipping operations. When we identified ships smuggling illicit Iranian oil for the Quds Force to support Hezbollah and the Assad regime, Secretary Pompeo dispatched diplomatic teams to work with our allies and partners to help prevent it. We have been working with countries on almost every continent to identify vessels of concern and disrupt their operations. More than 75 vessels involved in illicit activity have been denied the flags that they need to sail."
Hook stated that the Iranian regime’s obsession with using Hezbollah to provoke conflict with Lebanon’s neighbors threatens the safety of the Lebanese people.
"IRGC backing enables Hezbollah to use murder, terrorism, and corruption to intimidate other Lebanese parties and communities," he said.