Franjieh Says ‘Political’ U.S. Sanctions Won’t Change Marada Position

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Marada Movement chief Suleiman Franjieh on Wednesday described the U.S. sanctions imposed Tuesday on Marada’s ex-minister Youssef Fenianos as a “political decision.”

The sanctions will only push Marada to cling to its “path and political alignment,” Franjieh said in a short statement.

He added: “We never were or will be shy about our position, which we are openly proud of.”

The U.S. Treasury charged Tuesday that, as a minister, Fenianos had received “hundreds of thousands of dollars” from Hizbullah in return for political favors.

It said he also provided sensitive documents to Hizbullah on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

The sanctions marked the first time that allies of Hizbullah have been targeted by sanctions.

Some analysts in Lebanon saw the sanctions as a message to Hizbullah’s allies to review their links with the Iran-backed group, especially by targeting a Christian ally for the first time.

“Fenianos and Ali Hassan Khalil are two central figures in the coalition that is led by Hizbullah,” said Ali Hamadeh, a political writer at Annahar newspaper who is often critical of Hizbullah.

He added that by sanctioning Fenianos, the U.S. is sending a message to Franjieh, who is a presidential hopeful. Hamadeh said Hizbullah’s non-Shiite allies will now have to “think seriously about the repercussions of their relations with Hizbullah.”

He said at a later stage, the sanctions might target members of President Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement, which has been Hizbullah’s strongest Christian ally since 2006.

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