The US government has sanctioned two lawmakers and the security chief of the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah in Lebanon on the grounds that they are using their positions of power to “facilitate the malignant agenda” of the organization and carrying out Iran’s orders.
The sanctioned individuals are the head of the Hezbollah parliamentary group in the Lebanese parliament, Mohamed Hasan Raad; the legislator Amin Sherri; and Wafiq Safa, Hizbullah’s security chief since 1987, the US Treasury Department said in a statement.
According to Treasury, two of those sanctioned – Raad and Safa – are part of the circle closest to Hezbollah’s secretary general, Hasan Nasrallah.
“Hezbollah uses its operations in the Lebanese parliament to manipulate institutions in support of the terrorist group’s financial and security interests and to reinforce Iran’s evil activities,” Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism Sigal Mandelker said in a statement.
The message that Washington wants to send with its new sanctions is that “there is no distinction between the political and violent activities of Hezbollah,” according to the note.
The Treasury explained that it has sanctioned Raad because, as head of the Hezbollah parliamentary group, it occupies a prominent position in the Shura Council, to which the country attributes the planning of the religious and military activities of the Shiite group.
Raad allegedly also has “ties” with some of the entrepreneurs who finance Hezbollah.
The Treasury considers Sherri as an “interlocutor” of Hezbollah’s interests and has used the “weight of its position” within the organization to “put pressure on financial institutions” in order to obtain financing and avoid Washington’s sanctions.
Finally, the Treasury accused Safa of taking advantage of his position within the Hezbollah security apparatus to “smuggle” through the ports and border crossings of Lebanon.
For example, Safa would have allowed the trafficking of drugs and weapons through the seaport of Beirut.
For decades, Washington has included Hezbollah, an ally of Iran, on the list of “terrorist” organizations and imposes economic sanctions on its leaders.
As a result of today’s sanctions, all the properties that the two legislators and Hezbollah’s security chief could have in the country are frozen, while the Americans and their companies will not be able to do business with them.
These new sanctions are part of the Donald Trump government’s campaign to pressure Tehran and try to sit down to negotiate a new nuclear agreement.
During May 2018, Trump took the country out of the nuclear agreement with Iran and European powers to set limits to the Iranian atomic program; and, now, after a year adhering to that pact, Tehran has begun to break some of its commitments, in an attempt to pressure the European Union (EU) to help it.