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Accused of corruption and support for Hezbollah, former Lebanese ministers Ali Hassan Khalil and Youssef Fenianos were sanctioned on Tuesday by the United States. Washington says these measures “must serve as a warning”.
The United States imposed, Tuesday, September 8, sanctions on two former Lebanese ministers, Youssef Fenianos and Ali Hassan Khalil, for “corruption” and support for the Shiite movement Hezbollah, considered a terrorist organization by Washington.
“The United States supports the people of Lebanon in their demands for reforms 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 at the port of Beirut on August 4 amplified the urgency of these calls, “stressed its services.
Ali Hassan Khalil, a pillar of the Shiite Amal party, had been finance minister since 2014 but, being one of the officials frequently shouted at by the street, he was dismissed from the technocratic government put in place at the beginning of the year. As for Youssef Fenianos, he was Minister of Transport and Public Works from 2016 to 2020.
In a tweet, US Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo described them as “two corrupt former Lebanese ministers who abused their position to provide material support to Hezbollah.”
We stand with the Lebanese people’s call for reform and will promote accountability for anyone facilitating Hizballah’s terrorist agenda. Today the U.S. is designating two corrupt former Lebanese ministers who abused their positions to provide material support to Hizballah.
– Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) September 8, 2020
“A false veneer of political legitimacy”
These punitive measures “must serve as a warning: the United States will not hesitate to sanction any person or entity which supports and makes possible the illicit terrorist activities of Hezbollah,” a senior American official told reporters.
“And Lebanese politicians who have provided Hezbollah with 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.
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.
After the devastating and murderous explosion of August 4, Washington supported the calls of France, on the front line, to obtain a Lebanese government radically different from the previous ones, capable of finally initiating structural reforms to extricate Lebanon from the doldrums economic. But the United States is placing more emphasis on the need to combat the influence of Hezbollah, a pro-Iran movement hated on the American side.