Hizbullah Condemns U.S. Sanctions, Aoun Asks Foreign Ministry to Inquire

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Hizbullah on Wednesday condemned new U.S. sanctions against two former ministers from allied political parties over alleged corruption and aid to the group.

“We view this unjust decision as a badge of honor for our two dear friends,” Hizbullah said in a statement.

Hizbullah has long been targeted by U.S. sanctions and blacklisted as a “terrorist” organization, but the Iran-backed Shiite group is also a powerful political player with seats in Lebanon’s parliament.

Washington Tuesday imposed sanctions on former finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil and ex-transport minister Youssef Fenianos.

“Everything that is issued by this administration is condemned and rejected,” Hizbullah said of U.S. President Donald Trump’s government.

Washington “will not be able to implement its goals in Lebanon,” it said.

President Michel Aoun, whose party is allied with Hizbullah, directed the foreign ministry to contact the U.S. embassy in Beirut and Lebanese embassy in Washington to inquire about the circumstances that led to the sanctions, the presidency said in a statement.

The U.S. Treasury Department said that Khalil, who has also served as health minister, helped direct funds to Hizbullah institutions to evade U.S. sanctions against the group.

Fenianos, it alleged, received “hundreds of thousands of dollars” from Hizbullah in return for political favors.

The Treasury Department also said he provided sensitive documents to the group on the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which last month found a member of Hizbullah guilty over the 2005 murder of former prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Khalil hails from the AMAL Movement of Nabih Berri, the powerful speaker of parliament, while Fenianos is a member of the Christian Marada Movement.

Hizbullah spearheaded military operations against Israel’s occupation of southern Lebanon after the civil war but local and foreign rivals criticize the party for having retained its arsenal of arms despite Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000.

Israel occupied much of southern Lebanon between 1978 and 2000 and its invading army reached the capital in 1982. It also fought a devastating 2006 war with Hizbullah in which more than 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed in Lebanon.

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