(JNS) The Trump administration announced on November 6th that it has sanctioned a top pro-Hezbollah Lebanese politician.
Former Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil was sanctioned for helping Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated terrorist group—a move “likely to upend attempts to form a new cabinet in crisis-ridden Lebanon”.
Bassil is a son-in-law of Lebanese President Michel Aoun.
In a statement, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “Throughout his government career, Bassil has become notorious for corruption and has been linked to the purchase of influence within Lebanese political circles. While Minister of Energy, Bassil was involved in approving several projects that would have steered Lebanese government funds to individuals close to him through a group of front companies.”
“Through his corrupt activities, Bassil has also undermined good governance and contributed to the prevailing system of corruption and political patronage that plagues Lebanon, which has aided and abetted Hezbollah’s destabilizing activities,” he added. “Lebanese political leaders should be aware that the time has long passed for them to put aside their own narrow self-interests and instead work for the people of Lebanon.”
“Gebran Bassil should have been sanctioned years ago,” former U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman told The Wall Street Journal in August. “No one has done more to enable Hezbollah’s political [overreach] in Lebanon that he has, in giving an Iranian-funded Shia militia Christian cover.”
Ahead of the announcement, a source briefed on the decision told The Wall Street Journal that Bassil being sanctioned would “blow up the formation of the government.”