In 2019, Lebanese from all sects hit the streets to protest corruption and economic difficulties. Since then, political alternatives to Hezbollah within the Shia community have become more robust. Emerging groups are starting to express significant opposition to Hezbollah: business networks, students who participated in the protests (which Hezbollah opposed, in some cases with physical violence), social media-savvy activists and young professionals with no memory of the post-civil war years that brought Hezbollah into the political fold. These groups’ primary concerns are economic and social rather than political or ideological.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah’s parallel economy is collapsing. U.S. sanctions on Iran have crippled the flow of cash from Iran to Hezbollah, and the group’s involvement in regional military operations — mainly in Syria — have further drained its coffers. This has affected its ability to provide social services, aid and non-military employment opportunities.
There are also signs of a rift between Hezbollah and its traditional supporters. The group is increasingly in conflict with the Amal Movement, a political party that has long allied with Hezbollah. Other allies have been sanctioned by the United States and lost popularity, particularly after the 2019 protests drew attention to their corruption. According to a survey earlier this year, Hezbollah’s main Christian ally, the Free Patriotic Movement, has the support of just 15 percent of Lebanese Christians. Within Hezbollah’s own ranks, financial difficulties are widening the gap between military and nonmilitary members. Hezbollah is still paying its military personnel in dollars while the rest receive their payments in the Lebanese pound, which has lost around 90 percent of its value.