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Hezbollah Demands Lebanese Stance on US Sanctioning of Party MPs

Hezbollah Demands Lebanese Stance on US Sanctioning of Party MPs

Wednesday, 10 July, 2019 - 05:00
This combination of three photo shows, from left, Wafiq Safa, a top Hezbollah security official, and MPs Mohammed Raad and Amin Sherri in Beirut. (AP)
Washington, Beirut - Heba El Koudsy and Asharq Al-Awsat
Hezbollah demanded on Tuesday the Lebanese parliament and government to issue an official stance over the United States’ sanctioning of three of its top officials, including two lawmakers.

In what was the first response to Washington’s move, Hezbollah MP Ali Fayyad said: “Above all else, the American sanctions are an insult to the Lebanese people.”

He also deemed them a violation of Lebanon’s sovereignty, which requires a response from the parliament and government.

Earlier on Tuesday, the US Treasury named MPs Amin Sherri and Mohammad Raad to a terror-related blacklist, saying that Hezbollah uses its parliamentary power to advance its violent activities.

It was the first time the US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control had designated a member of Lebanon’s parliament under a sanctions list that targets those accused by Washington of providing support to terrorist organizations. Washington has designated Hezbollah as a terrorist group.

OFAC said it also designated Wafiq Safa, who is in charge of Hezbollah’s Liaison and Coordination Unit responsible for coordinating with Lebanese security agencies.

"Hezbollah uses its operatives in Lebanon's parliament to manipulate institutions in support of the terrorist group's financial and security interests, and to bolster Iran's malign activities," said Sigal Mandelker, Under Secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

"It is time we believe for other nations around the world to recognize that there is no distinction between Hezbollah's political and military wing," a senior administration official who insisted on anonymity told journalists.

Raad, 64, is the head of the parliamentary bloc of the party and an MP since 1992.

Sherri, 62, is a 17-year Hezbollah veteran of parliament representing Beirut.

Safa, the Treasury said, maintains the group's ties to financiers and helps arrange the smuggling of weapons and drugs.

The action by the US Treasury bars US citizens from dealing with the three individuals and blocks any assets they may hold in the United States. It also limits their ability to access the US financial system.

The newest sanctions brought to 50 the number of Hezbollah individuals and entities blacklisted by the Treasury since 2017.

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