Accused of corruption and supporting Hezbollah, former Lebanese ministers Ali Hassan Khalil and Youssef Fenianos were sanctioned by the United States on Tuesday. Washington says these measures “must serve as a warning”.
On Tuesday, September 8, the United States imposed sanctions on two former Lebanese ministers, Youssef Fenianos and Ali Hassan Khalil, for “corruption” and support for the Shiite movement Hezbollah, which Washington considered a terrorist organization.
“The United States supports the people of Lebanon in their demands for reform and will continue to use all means at their disposal to target those who oppress and exploit them,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin warned in a statement. “The catastrophic explosion in the port of Beirut on August 4 reinforced the urgency of these calls,” its services said.
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Ali Hassan Khalil, a pillar of the Shiite Amal party, had been finance minister since 2014, but because he was one of the officials often shouted in the street, he was fired from the technocratic government that was set up earlier this year. As for Youssef Fenianos, he was Minister of Transport and Public Works from 2016 to 2020.
In a tweet, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo described them as “two corrupt former Lebanese ministers who abused their position to provide material support to Hezbollah.”
We stand by the Lebanese people’s call for reform and will promote accountability to all who facilitate Hezbollah’s terrorist agenda. Today, the United States appoints two corrupt former Lebanese ministers who abused their positions to provide material support to Hezbollah.
– Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 8, 2020
“A false banner of political legitimacy”
These sanctions “must serve as a warning: the United States will not hesitate to sanction any person or entity that supports and enables Hezbollah’s illegal terrorist activities,” a senior U.S. official told reporters.
“And Lebanese politicians who have given Hezbollah a false veneer of political legitimacy, or abused their positions to redirect public funds to the terrorist group, are responsible for their actions,” he added.
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This official also said that the two ministers concerned were involved in the management of the port, while specifying that this was not the reason for the current sanctions.
Following the devastating and deadly explosion of August 4, Washington supported France’s frontline call for a radically different Lebanese government than the previous ones, which could finally initiate structural reforms to free Lebanon. economic. But the United States is placing more emphasis on the need to fight Hezbollah’s influence, an Iranian movement that is hated on the American side.