Hezbollah called the US sanctions on two of its allies ‘unjust’
The US sanctioned two of the former ministers of Lebanese government, who also happen to be allies of the country’s Shiite political group, Hezbollah. US imposed sanctioned and blacklisted former finance minister Ali Hassan Khalil and ex-transport minister Youssef Fenianos over alleged corruption charges and illegal aid to the group.
On Wednesday, the Iran-backed Lebanese group hit back at US and condemned its new sanctions as ‘unjust’. Hezbollah in its statement said, “We view this unjust decision as a badge of honour for our two dear friends.” The Shiite group’s added that they considered these sanctions no less than a medal of honor “for the two dear friends and to anyone accused by the American administration of being a supporter of the resistance.” The Lebanese political group with militant links added, “The policy of American sanctions will not be able to achieve its goals in Lebanon and will not subdue the Lebanese or make them abandon their national and sovereign rights.”
The sanctions came as Lebanon struggles to recover from its worst economic crisis. Besides, the country had been bereft of hope as it got torn apart last month by the deadly explosion at Beirut’s port which killed more than 190, wounded 6,500 and caused damage worth billions of dollars. Many nations raised questions over the country’s leadership, which had been accused of corruption, mismanagement, and lack of integrity and accountability.
US announced its sanctions at a sensitive time when the nation was going through a transition phase as Lebanon’s newly designated prime minister Mustapha Adib was busy forming a new Cabinet, in order to replace the previous one which resigned on August 10 following the public outrage over the massive blast caused by 3,000 tons of ammonium nitrate in Beirut.
Besides Hezbollah, the Amal group, the Lebanese political party associated with the country’s Shia community also invalidated the US sanctions. “This decision will not change our convictions and our national and patriotic principles at all,” Amal group said in a statement issued after US blacklisted a senior Amal politician, Khalil.
Suleiman Frangieh, a Christian politician and leader of the Marada party, which is also allied to Hezbollah. reiterated similar views as the Shiite group. He said, the US sanctions on Khalil was like “targeting Lebanon and its sovereignty”. Frangieh added that his party would not be influenced by Washington’s decision.
“Fenianos and Ali Hassan Khalil are two central figures in the coalition that is led by Hezbollah,” said Ali Hamadeh, a journalist who writes political columns in An-Nahar, Lebanese newspaper, mostly critical of Hezbollah.He added that by sanctioning Fenianos, the US was indirectly trying to hint Frangieh, the Marada chief, who is also a presidential hopeful. Hamadeh believed that Hezbollah’s non-Shiite allies would now have to “think seriously about the repercussions of their relations with Hezbollah.”