On November 6, the U.S. Treasury announced sanctions on influential Lebanese politician Gebran Bassil, a close ally of Hezbollah.
Bassil is the president of the Christian-dominated Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and the son-in-law of its founder, the current President of Lebanon, Michel Aoun.
Over the last twelve years, Bassil served in several high-level posts in the Lebanese government, including as Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Minister of Energy and Water and Minister of Telecommunications.
In an official statement, U.S. Secretary of State accused Bassil of playing a role in Lebanon’s corruption and as well as of supporting Hezbollah.
“Through his corrupt activities, Bassil has also undermined good governance and contributed to the prevailing system of corruption and political patronage that plagues Lebanon, which has aided and abetted Hizballah’s destabilizing activities,” Pompeo said, “Lebanese political leaders should be aware that the time has long passed for them to put aside their own narrow self-interests and instead work for the people of Lebanon.”
The FPM, which holds the largest Christian block in the Lebanese Parliament, has been an ally of Hezbollah since 2006, when the two parties signed a memorandum of understanding.
“Neither the sanctions scared me nor the promises seduced me … I will not turn against any Lebanese … I will not save myself to destroy Lebanon,” Bassil said on Twitter, commenting on the U.S. announcement.
Bassil is the third Lebanese politician to be sanctioned by the U.S. over his ties to Hezbollah. Last September the U.S. sanctioned Ali Hassan Khalil, a former minister of finance, and Yusuf Finyanus, a former minister of transportation and public works.
While these sanctions are being presented as a response to corruption in Lebanon, they are in reality a part of the U.S. “maximum pressure” policy which is targeting Iran and its allies in the Middle East.
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