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US Congress Prepares New Sanctions against Hezbollah

US Congress Prepares New Sanctions against Hezbollah

Wednesday, 20 March, 2019 - 08:15
Hezbollah fighters hold their group's flags at a rally in Nabatiyeh, southern Lebanon, November 7, 2014. (AP)
Washington - Elie Youssef
Republican and Democrat congressmen are ramping up a new list of sanctions against Hezbollah, expected to be approved next week, revealed US Congress sources Tuesday.

Congressional circles have expressed their satisfaction with the results of the latest sanctions recently imposed on Iran.

Separately, a high-ranking US official told a close circle of journalists that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is expected to urge Lebanon to take independent decisions on behalf of the Lebanese people.

During his upcoming visit to Beirut this week, the US official will directly tackle the current challenges posed by Iran and Tehran’s illegal activities in Lebanon, in addition to Hezbollah’s role.

Pompeo’s stop in the Lebanese capital could be very significant amid the escalating tensions between Washington and several Lebanese officials over how to deal with Hezbollah and its political and military roles.

“We’ll spend a lot of time talking with the Lebanese government about how we can help them disconnect from the threat that Iran and Hezbollah present to them,” said Pompeo on Tuesday.

“Financial, economic, all the assistance we have provided to the Lebanese Armed Forces, talk to them about those serious issues. And meet with some of the religious leadership of the country as well.”

Observers predict that Pompeo will use in Beirut the same rhetoric he uses in Iraq, which drove tensions among the country’s political leaders amid pressure Washington is exerting on Baghdad over its energy deals with neighboring Iran.

Military sources said that the Washington is extremely concerned about Hezbollah possibly seizing control of Lebanon’s military intelligence and important security decision-making positions.

It cited Hezbollah’s control of the airport and ports and its hindering of the army’s duties on the border with Israel.

Meanwhile, an official from the US State Department denied that Washington was seeking to establish any kind of military bases in Lebanon, as alleged by some forces that were seeking to create incitement against Washington ahead of Pompeo’s visit.

Washington has a regional and local target to limit the adventures, influence and presence of Iran and its forces across the region, including Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen, the official said.

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