US to sanction leader of Lebanon’s Free Patriotic Movement

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The United States has disclosed plan to sanction Gebran Bassil, the leader of Lebanon’s Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) party.

According to Wall Street Journal report, the Movement was founded by President Michel Aoun and is allied with Hezbollah.

It was also reported that the US President Donald Trump’s administration is expected to impose the sanctions on Bassil for assisting his ally, the Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah.

“The decision has been approved by the Treasury Department and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who is expected to announce the sanctions in Washington,” the report says.

The US deems Iranian-backed Hezbollah, which is a powerful political presence in Lebanon, to be a “terrorist” group, a charge Hezbollah denies.

In September, the US blacklisted two former Lebanese government ministers it accused of enabling Hezbollah.

Washington accused a former transport minister, Yusuf Finyanus, and a former finance minister, Ali Hassan Khalil, of engaging in corruption and leveraging their political power for financial gain.

“Corruption has run rampant in Lebanon, and Hizballah has exploited the political system to spread its malign influence,” US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement in September.

“The United States stands with the people of Lebanon in their calls for reform and will continue to use its authorities to target those who oppress and exploit them,” he added.

Fifteen years after the assassination of Lebanon’s Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Hezbollah has risen to become the overarching power in a country that is now collapsing under a series of devastating crises.

An August 4 blast killed nearly 200, injured 6,000 more, and destroyed large swaths of the Mediterranean city, compounding a deep financial crisis.

Currently, Lebanon’s banks are paralysed, its currency has crashed and sectarian tensions are rising.

Source: News Agency

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