Threat of US sanctions looms over Lebanons Hezbollah allies

04/16/2019 - 05:55 AM

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Barely a fortnight after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Lebanonand threatened Hezbollah's political allies to contain the group or face US sanctions, some of them have flown to Washington, DC, to lobby against them and assuage US concerns.

Officially, however, the Lebanese delegation is travelling to attend the 2019 Spring Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

While in Lebanon, Pompeo had said that the US is inclined to sanction political "individuals" linked to Hezbollah to curtail the group's military and political growth and in effect the influence of its patron, Iran, in the region.

Hanin Ghaddar, a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told Al Jazeera that, according to her sources, Pompeo warned President Michel Aoun of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) and Speaker Nabih Berri of the Amal movement, with personal sanctions.

"I checked with people who were present at the dinner organised for Pompeo. They confirmed to me that he told both Aoun and Berri that they would be sanctioned unless they pull the reins on Hezbollah," Ghaddar said.

May Chidiac, the new minister of state for administrative development and a representative of the Christian Lebanese Forces Party, which is seen to be close to the US, said that while she is not privy to the details of one-on-one meetings between the leaders, Pompeo's message was clear.

"It was a strong warning for all those who back Hezbollah that the sanctions may include them, its political allies. He said it very bluntly," Chidiac said. 




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