U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker on Tuesday dismissed Hizbullah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah’s latest anti-U.S. accusations and said sanctions related to Hizbullah’s “activities” will be implemented in Lebanon.
Describing Nasrallah’s allegations as fictitious and baseless, Schenker denied in an interview with al-Hadeel magazine that Washington is preventing the entry of dollars into Lebanon and said the rise in the dollar exchange rate in the country has many other reasons.
He said such reasons include the smuggling of dollars to Syria, the shortage of dollars in banks, years of corruption in Lebanon and alleged smuggling by Hizbullah via the country’s ports of entry.
Asked about Nasrallah’s remarks that Hizbullah would “kill” any party seeking to disarm the group through “weapons or hunger,” the U.S. official described the statement as “very defensive.”
As for the tensions with Israel, Schenker said the U.S. would support Israel’s “right to self defense” in the event of any conflict with Hizbullah and also defended its intensive overflights in Lebanon’s airspace.
Asked whether there will be sanctions soon on Hizbullah’s “Shiite and non-Shiite allies” and whether the anti-corruption Magnitsky Act will be activated, Schenker confirmed that sanctions related to combating corruption and Hizbullah’s “activities” will be implemented in Lebanon.
Separately, the U.S. official said Hassan Diab’s government has been in office for more than 130 days without making any “serious” efforts to achieve reform and combat corruption.