(August 12, 2020 / JNS) The United States is reportedly expected to sanction Hezbollah allies in Lebanon.
The anti-corruption sanctions would be against prominent Lebanese politicians and businessmen who support Hezbollah, reported The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, citing U.S. officials and others familiar with the plans, which seek to weaken the U.S.-designated terrorist group’s influence in Lebanon in the aftermath of the Aug. 4 explosions in Beirut that killed more than 200 people and injured thousands.
International organizations and world leaders, including U.S. President Donald Trump, have reportedly promised to donate $300 million in aid to Lebanon on the condition of carrying out political and economic reforms. U.S. aid has already begun to be delivered to Lebanon.
With possible sanctions, the United States seeks to leverage reform in Lebanon, including ensuring that Hezbollah no longer has such a grip on the government.
“Some of us are hoping we can finally take advantage of the situation to shake things up among the political elites there,” a U.S. official focused on the Middle East told the Journal. “It seems to me that concurrent local popular outrage and well-thought-out external pressure can force some big changes in how the elites do business politically, not to mention financially, with respect to Hezbollah.”
One Hezbollah ally that some U.S. officials want to sanction is former Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, a son-in-law of Lebanese President Michel Aoun, according to the Journal.
“Gebran Bassil should have been sanctioned years ago,” former U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman told the outlet. “No one has done more to enable Hezbollah’s political [overreach] in Lebanon that he has, in giving an Iranian-funded Shia militia Christian cover.”
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