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Hezbollah’s Supermarket Gambit

Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shia political outfit-cum-militant group backed by Iran, means business! It announced its intent by launching a string of supermarkets in Lebanon to supply low-cost products but only to its supporters, not to the average Lebanese.

The group wields considerable influence in Lebanon and over its politics and its latest business venture— al-Sajjad as it’s called—is in line with furthering its aim to develop a parallel economy.

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Lebanon is already in the throes of multiple crises. The economy—plagued by years of corruption and sectarian politics—was jolted by the Coronavirus and a devastating explosion at the Beirut port last year that killed 200 people, injured thousands and displaced many more. Half the country’s population lives below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.

Meanwhile, shelves at the supermarkets have been stocked with Iranian products. And Hezbollah has been distributing pre-paid cards to its supporters that will ensure consumer retention and fund its business environment. Call it opportunity in crisis.