Lebanese political allies of Hezbollah slam new US sanctions

By: AFP      Published: 10:20 PM, 9 Sep, 2020
Lebanese political allies of Hezbollah slam new US sanctions

Two Lebanese political parties allied to Hezbollah Wednesday condemned new US sanctions on two former cabinet ministers from their ranks over alleged support to the Shiite movement and corruption.

Iran-backed Hezbollah has long been targeted by US sanctions and blacklisted as a "terrorist" organisation, but the Shiite group is also a powerful political player with seats in Lebanon's parliament.

Washington Tuesday targeted former finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil and former transport minister Youssef Fenianos, freezing any assets they hold in the United States and making any financial transactions with them a crime.

Khalil hails from the Shiite Amal party of the powerful speaker of parliament Nabih Berri, while Fenianos is a member of the Marada movement of Christian leader Sleiman Frangieh.

Amal in a statement said the fresh economic restrictions did not target just one of its members but also "Lebanon and its sovereignty... and the organisation to which he belongs".

Frangieh, who heads the Marada movement, criticised what he described as a "political" move that would only increase the Christian party's adherence to its political line.

The Treasury Department said that Khalil, who has also served as health minister, helped direct funds to Hezbollah institutions to evade US sanctions.

Fenianos, it alleged, received "hundreds of thousands of dollars" from Hezbollah in return for political favours.

It said he also provided sensitive documents to the Shiite group on a special UN tribunal that last month found a member of the movement guilty over the 2005 murder of former prime minister Rafic Hariri.

Hezbollah is the only side not to have disarmed after Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war, and has fought several wars with southern neighbour and archfoe Israel.