US administration imposes sanctions on top Lebanese politician
The Trump administration has imposed sanctions on a top Lebanese politician whom it has accused of playing a major role in corruption in the country.
The measure targets Gebran Bassil, head of the Free Patriotic Movement, a Christian party allied to the powerful Shia movement Hezbollah.
Announcing the sanctions, US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said: “The systemic corruption in Lebanon’s political system exemplified by Bassil has helped to erode the foundation of an effective government that serves the Lebanese people.
“This designation further demonstrates that the United States supports the Lebanese people in their continued calls for reform and accountability.”
The sanctions come at a time when Lebanon is in a deep political and economic crisis.
Demonstrators have taken to the streets across the country demanding a complete overhaul of its political system, which is widely seen as perpetuating corruption and ineffective governance.
Lebanon is also suffering financial collapse, worsened by the effects of the pandemic, as well as deep anger against the ruling elites over the explosion at Beirut port in August, which killed almost 200 people and injured 6,000 others.
Mr. Bassil reacted defiantly on Twitter.
“Sanctions have not frightened me and promises have not tempted me,” he posted in Arabic.
“I will not turn against any Lebanese… I will not save myself for Lebanon to perish.”
Two months ago the US also put sanctions on two former Lebanese government ministers for allegedly providing material support to Hezbollah and engaging in corruption.