Hezbollah allies denounce US sanctions

Political group allied with Hezbollah denounces US sanctions imposed against one of its senior members.

Elad Benari ,

Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon
Hezbollah in Southern Lebanon

A powerful political group allied with Hezbollah on Wednesday denounced the US sanctions imposed against one of its senior members, saying they infringe on Lebanon’s sovereignty and will not succeed in extracting any concessions, The Associated Press reports.

On Tuesday, the US Treasury sanctioned two former Lebanese Cabinet ministers who are allied with Hezbollah. The sanctioned officials are former finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil and former public works and transportation minister Youssef Fenianos. Khalil is currently a member of the Lebanese Parliament.

Khalil is a senior official with the Shiite Amal group that is headed by Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, while Fenianos is a member of the Christian Marada group that is allied with Hezbollah and the Syrian government.

The Marada Movement’s chief, Sleiman Fangieh, said in a short statement quoted by AP that the American decision is political, adding that “we never were or will be shy about our position, which we are openly proud of.”

The Amal group said in a statement released after a meeting of its leadership that the sanctions will not make the group change its policies, adding that no matter how much the pressure increases it “will not make concessions” regarding Lebanon’s sea and land border.

Hezbollah has been sanctioned several times by the US administration in recent years.

In July of 2019, the US Treasury placed two Hezbollah members of Lebanon's parliament on its sanctions blacklist, marking the first time Washington has taken aim at the Iran-allied group's elected politicians.

A month later, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on financial institutions and suspected middlemen in Lebanon and Oman.

Hezbollah, which has a strong political presence in Lebanon, is a major part of the cabinet, after the group and its allies gained more than half the seats of the 128-member Lebanese parliament in an election held in May of 2018.