While Iran has its domestic funding needs, Iran’s allies in the Middle East have needs as well. In April, President Obama estimated that Iran’s defense budget was approximately $30 billion.
“Even if they spent 60%, 70% on the money from the deal on hospitals and roads, it’s still going to have an enormous impact on what Iran is able to do in Iraq and Syria and Yemen,” said Matthew McInnis, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former senior analyst at the Department of Defense.
The militant group Hezbollah has had to cut salaries and defer payments to its suppliers as a result of financial restraints in Iran, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Sponsored by the Iranian government, which has been hit by falling global oil prices and international sanctions, Hezbollah could be in a position to take advantage of billions of dollars in newly-freed Iranian assets.
“If Iran gets back this money, what will it do with it?” Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah asked earlier this year, according to a translation in the Weekly Standard. “A rich and strong Iran… will be able to stand by its allies and friends, and the peoples of the region, especially the resistance in Palestine, more than in any time in the past.”
The Assad regime in Syria has also suffered serious setbacks in recent months, and would also be in a position to ask for additional resources.
“It was surprising how much financial resources Iran dedicated to Syria while it was under a choking sanctions framework. With a relaxation of this framework, Iran will only increase its support of the Assad regime and Shia militias, including Hezbollah, that are slaughtering the Syrian people every day,” said Mouaz Moustafa of United for a Free Syria and the Syrian Emergency Task Force.