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Possible US Sanctions Against Non-Shiite Hezbollah Allies

Possible US Sanctions Against Non-Shiite Hezbollah Allies

Friday, 12 April, 2019 - 08:30
Pompeo meets with Berri in Beirut, March 22, 2019. Reuters
Beirut - Mohamed Choucair

Several Lebanese parties, including Hezbollah rivals, have downplayed hints that the US would impose sanctions on Speaker Nabih Berri, who is an ally of the Shiite party.

A number of ministers and deputies confirmed that during his visit to Beirut last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo frankly told Lebanese officials that America will not tolerate individuals who collaborate with Hezbollah.

Pompeo hinted that US sanctions on Hezbollah could even involve non-Shiite figures if there was evidence on their involvement with the party, the ministers and MPs told Asharq Al-Awsat.

The Lebanese politicians explained that the US did not place a veto on the appointment of Hezbollah-affiliated Jamil Jabak as health minister in the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, but it warned against any attempts by the party to use the cabinet portfolio to buy Iran-made medication.

Moreover, they said that Washington does not seem in a hurry to place sanctions on Berri without previous notice, adding that MP Yassin Jaber, who is a member of the speaker’s parliamentary bloc is currently in the US with Berri’s adviser, Ali Hamdan.

“Washington has no interest in issuing sanctions against Berri, a step that would surely lead to the boycott of a principle component of the Shiite sect in Lebanon,” the ministers and deputies said.

Some observers believe that the US intimidation against Berri aims to place pressure on the Speaker to accept the demarcation of the Lebanese-Israeli maritime borders based on the Hoff line, which calls for Lebanon to acquire 550 square kilometers of a disputed triangular area, and consider the rest as part of Israeli territorial waters.

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