US Considers Imposing Sanctions on Lebanese Officials

File Photo. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf. (AFP)
File Photo. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf. (AFP)
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US Considers Imposing Sanctions on Lebanese Officials

File Photo. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf. (AFP)
File Photo. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf. (AFP)

Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf has said the US was considering the possibility of imposing sanctions on some Lebanese officials over the failure to elect a new president.

During a Senate committee hearing on the Middle East, the top US diplomat for the region expressed the Biden Administration’s “enormous frustration” over the current situation in Lebanon.

Leaf said Washington was “working collaboratively with several regional partners, European partners, to push the Lebanese Parliament to do its job.”

“The elected representatives of the Lebanese people have failed to do their jobs. The Speaker of the Parliament has failed to hold a session since January to allow members to put candidates forward for the presidency, to vote on them up or down, and to get a choice to get to elect a president,” according to Leaf.

Leaf responded to a question by Sen. Cynthia Chaheen on whether sanctions should be contemplated, saying, “We are looking at it. Yes, we are.”

She further affirmed, “We are engaging with the diaspora. I meet regularly with members of the Lebanese Parliament who come through town.”

“In the face of growing instability, Lebanon’s political class must urgently overcome their differences and commit to advancing the interests of Lebanon’s people,” Congressmen Mike McCaul and Gregory Meeks said in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“We also call on the Administration to use all available authorities, including additional targeted sanctions on specific individuals contributing to corruption and impeding progress in the country.”

They called on the Lebanese Parliament to “break through months of intransigence to urgently elect a new president who is free from corruption and undue external influence.”



WHO Says Many People in Gaza Facing ‘Famine-like Conditions’

Israeli soldiers operate inside the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, on Feb. 13, 2024. (AP)
Israeli soldiers operate inside the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, on Feb. 13, 2024. (AP)
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WHO Says Many People in Gaza Facing ‘Famine-like Conditions’

Israeli soldiers operate inside the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, on Feb. 13, 2024. (AP)
Israeli soldiers operate inside the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, on Feb. 13, 2024. (AP)

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that many people in Gaza were facing "catastrophic hunger and famine-like conditions".

"A significant proportion of Gaza's population is now facing catastrophic hunger and famine-like conditions," said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

"Despite reports of increased delivery of food, there is currently no evidence that those who need it most are receiving sufficient quantity and quality of food."

Tedros said there were more than 8,000 children under five years old who have been diagnosed and treated for acute malnutrition, including 1,600 children with severe acute malnutrition.

"However, due to insecurity and lack of access, only two stabilization centers for severely malnourished patients can operate," he added.

"Our inability to provide health services safely, combined with the lack of clean water and sanitation, significantly increases the risk of malnourished children."

The war in Gaza began on Oct. 7 when fighters led by Hamas killed 1,200 Israelis and took more than 250 hostage, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's response has caused the deaths of more than 37,000 Palestinians, according to the Gazan health ministry, displaced most of Gaza's population of 2.3 million and caused widespread hunger and destruction.

A UN inquiry on Wednesday found that both Israel and Hamas had committed war crimes early in the Gaza war, and that Israel's actions also constituted crimes against humanity because of the immense civilian losses.

Tedros also highlighted a separate health crisis in the West Bank, where he said healthcare had been targeted by nearly 500 attacks since Oct. 7.

"While the world's focus has been on Gaza, there is also an escalating health crisis in the West Bank, where attacks on healthcare and restrictions on movement of people are obstructing access to health services," he said.

"In most areas of the West Bank, clinics are only operating two days a week and hospitals are operating at about 70% capacity."