|Beirut's Bank Street
Arab media reports that Hezbollah has instructed its Shi'ite supporters to "attack and storm banks" in Beirut that adhere to US sanctions against it, its leadership and economic institutions. While the public statements call for public street protests. the fear is that such actions will lead to violence, disrupting bank operations, and thereby damaging the Lebanese economy.
Beirut banks are anxious to avoid the fate of Jammal Trust Bank (JTR Bank), which was forced into liquidation, after OFAC sanctioned it for providing financial support to Hezbollah, and a number of Hezbollah officials in Lebanese government were also targeted by US Treasury.
Other unspecified affirmative steps to confront the banks have apparently been approved by the terrorist organization, which wields serious political as well as military power within Lebanon, are reportedly being organized at the behest of Iran, which hopes to use the resulting chaos to force the United States back to the bargaining table; American sanctions upon Iran have had a major effect upon its economy, especially in international trade. Even though the US supports Lebanon, whether or not it will render concessions to Iran, to protect the Beirut financial structure, is doubtful.
Nevertheless, the threat of abrupt bank closures, due to damage as the result of organized violence by Hezbollah, remains a concern. Country Risk for Lebanon must now be substantially increased, as well as reducing any temporary financial exposure that is currently outstanding.