Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Trust in Lebanese financier shakes Hezbollah’s image

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By Yara Bayoumy

The case of Salah Ezz el-Din, a Shi’ite Lebanese financier who has been accused of embezzlement and alleged to have defrauded Shi’ite investors, including Hezbollah officials, of hundreds of millions of dollars, has Lebanon in a stir.

The overall amount pales in comparison to Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, but in a community of little more than a million Shi’ites, it has meant that many have had their life-savings wiped out.

But what’s more shocking than the amount is the overwhelming trust that his investors still have in him. That is, no doubt, due to Hezbollah’s approval of him.

There are even some Hezbollah officials who invested with him, although the group’s leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has denied any direct links with Ezz el-Din.

Is Hezbollah’s gun diplomacy working?

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hezbollah.jpgHezbollah literally rolled out the red carpet to welcome home five prisoners released by Israel in a U.N.-mediated exchange deal. Securing the release of the last five Lebanese held by Israel was a major triumph for the group, which in turn handed over the bodies of two Israeli soldiers captured in a 2006 raid into Israel.

Having achieved a long-held goal, Hezbollah is holding up the exchange as further evidence that its uncompromising, armed approach to dealing with Israel brings results, directly challenging the policies of Arab leaders who have engaged in negotiations or signed peace treaties with the Jewish state. The New York Times called the prisoners’ homecoming a triumph.

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