The Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah is reportedly using Syrian refugees to potentially trigger a refugee crisis in Europe, advancing its own interests and those of its Iranian patron.

Approximately 2 million Syrian refugees reside in Lebanon, having fled the civil war in their home country.

In a thinly veiled threat, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah recently warned European nations during a speech on Hezbollah’s TV channel Al-Manar, that there should be “a national decision that says: we have opened the sea… whoever wants to leave for Europe, for Cyprus, the sea is in front of you. Take a boat and board it.” Nasrallah added threateningly, “We do not propose forcing displaced Syrians to board boats and leave for Cyprus and Europe.”

Nasrallah’s threat emerged shortly after the European Union pledged $1 billion to Lebanon, contingent upon Beirut’s efforts to prevent massive illegal migration from Lebanon to Europe. This is not the first time that European nations have attempted to pay governments to prevent illegal migration waves. The EU has also offered large amounts of money to Turkey and North African governments to prevent illegal migrations from their shores towards Europe.

In 2015, fueled by the civil war in Syria, a record 1.3 million Middle Eastern migrants entered the EU, many of them illegally, without any valid documentation. Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Sweden are ranked among the top European destinations for Middle Eastern migrants. Since then, the Turkish government and others in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region have turned European fears of continued illegal mass migration into a financially lucrative enterprise.

Inspired by Turkey, Hezbollah and the Iranian regime likely intend to pressure the Europeans to increase their financial aid to Lebanon. Since Hezbollah is a powerful player, the terror militia could then confiscate much of the European financial aid officially earmarked for Lebanon.

Lebanon is currently facing a severe economic crisis. The Lebanese currency has lost most of its value and the country’s central bank declared bankruptcy in 2022,

Hezbollah critics in Lebanon argue that the terror group seeks to “put pressure on Western countries to lift the Caesar Act sanctions on Syria, open aid coffers, and restore international legitimacy to the Syrian president.”

Hezbollah and Iran could potentially threaten to unleash a migrant crisis to restore international support for their ally, the Syrian Assad regime, which has faced international and even Arab boycotts after the deaths of half a million people during the Syrian Civil War. Other critics believe Hezbollah is trying to create a new refugee crisis as a tool to undermine the incumbent Lebanese government.

Hezbollah and Iran have played a pivotal role in crushing anti-Assad forces in Syria and unleashing the mass migration of millions of Syrians worldwide. Since many Syrian refugees are opponents of the Assad regime, Hezbollah and Iran have a strong interest in preventing them from returning to Syria.

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