Asharq Al Awsat: Lebanon Interferes to Spare Further Sanctions on Hezbollah

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Lebanon Interferes to Spare Further Sanctions on Hezbollah
Caroline Akoum/Asharq Al Awsat/April 25/17

Beirut – Lebanese President Michel Aoun announced that his country was making all necessary contacts to avert the issuance of new US sanctions on Hezbollah.

During a meeting with a delegation from the Washington DC-based non-profit, the American Task Force for Lebanon, Aoun said the US Congress plan to review additional and tougher sanctions against Hezbollah would harm Lebanon and its people, and would not complement the current US-Lebanon relations.

A number of US congressmen presented a draft called “Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act of 2017”, which is aimed at cutting off all forms of financial support to the party labeled by Washington as a terrorist organization.

The draft comes in line with President Donald Trump’s goal to curb the influence of Iran in the region and impose more sanctions on Tehran and its affiliated organizations and entities.
Sources said that the new sanctions, if adopted, would also affect parties close to Hezbollah, in addition to associated educational, social and media institutions.

“The draft law that is being prepared in Congress to slap new financial sanctions on Lebanese parties, institutions and individuals will greatly harm Lebanon and its people,” Aoun told the delegation.

In remarks to Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, Lebanese Minister of Economy and Trade Raed Khoury said that imposing further sanctions on Hezbollah was a great source of concern to Lebanon.

He added, however, that the Lebanese authorities were deploying all possible efforts to limit the repercussions of such sanctions.

“Until now, we don’t know the nature or the details of these sanctions, but work has started to limit its repercussions in case they were adopted,” Khoury said.

He noted that a delegation of Lebanese ministers and deputies would visit the United States to discuss this issue, in parallel with the work assumed by Central Bank Governor Riad Salameh in this regard.

Economic Expert Ghazi Wazni told Asharq al-Awsat that based on available information, the new sanctions would be “more strict” and would target institutions or persons linked to Hezbollah.

“For this reason, the government has decided to establish a political and financial ministerial committee to take proactive actions,” he said.

Wazni added that, if adopted, the new sanctions would affect Lebanese banks, which would be forced to abide by the new law.