Lebanese Hezbollah-allied parties says US sanctions target whole nation

Reuters , Wednesday 9 Sep 2020

FILE - In this May 24, 2019, file photo, Lebanese Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil listens to Leba
FILE - In this May 24, 2019, file photo, Lebanese Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil listens to Lebanese Information Minister Jamal Jarrah while he speaks to a journalist at the Government House in Beirut, Lebanon. The U.S. AP

Two Lebanese political parties allied to Hezbollah said on Wednesday they would not be swayed by US sanctions imposed on its members, with the Shi'ite Muslim Amal group saying Washington's move was like targeting the whole nation.

The United States expanded sanctions related to Lebanon on Tuesday by blacklisting two former government ministers, including Amal's Ali Hassan Khalil. It said the two men had aided Hezbollah, which Washington brands a terrorist group.

Alongside the heavily armed, Iran-backed Hezbollah, Amal is one of two dominant Shi'ite factions in Lebanon's fractious sectarian political system.

The US move comes at a sensitive time, as a new government is being formed under a tight deadline in a bid to extricate Lebanon from a deep economic crisis that poses the biggest threat to the country's stability since the 1975-1990 civil war.

"This (US) decision will not change our convictions and our national and patriotic principles at all," Amal said in a statement issued after Washington added the senior Amal politician and former finance minister, Khalil, to a blacklist.

The group said imposing sanctions on Khalil was like "targeting Lebanon and its sovereignty."

The United States also blacklisted former Transport Minister Yusuf Finyanus, a Christian politician who is a member of the Marada party that is also allied to Hezbollah.

Marada's leader, Suleiman Frangieh, said his party would not be influenced by Washington's decision, the Lebanese state news agency reported.

In a statement, Frangieh said Washington's move to impose sanctions on Finyanus was a "political decision" that would reinforce "our approach and our position."

Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib, named after the last government quit following a massive Beirut port blast in August, is seeking to form a cabinet by early next week, under pressure from France which is leading an international push for deep reforms to unlock pledges of aid.

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