US treasury sanctions two Hezbollah lawmakers for first time
The United States Treasury has imposed sanctions on two Hezbollah lawmakers and a security official for the first time.
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The Treasury on Tuesday placed MPs Amin Sherri and Muhammad Hasan Ra'd and Wafiq Safa, a top Hezbollah security official, on its sanctions blacklist, and accused Hezbollah of using its parliamentary power to advance its resistance activities.
"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.
Ra'd is the head of the parliamentary bloc of the party and an MP since 1992, and Sherri has been an MP representing Beirut since 2002.
Some 50 Hezbollah individuals and entities have been blacklisted by the Treasury since 2017.
A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity told journalists: "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.”
"To any member of Hezbollah considering running for office, know that you will not be able to hide beneath the cover of political office," the official said.
Hezbollah was formed following the Israeli regime’s invasion of Lebanon and the ensuing occupation of its southern parts in 1980s, and currently constitutes Lebanon’s de facto military power.
Since then, the movement has helped the national army retake the occupied regions from Tel Aviv and thwart two Israeli acts of aggression in 2000 and 2006.
The movement has also been playing a significant role in the Syrian army’s fight against Takfiri terror groups, including Daesh and Nusra Front, thus preventing the spillover of the war into Lebanon.
The US has its Arab allies in the Persian Gulf on board in cranking up pressure on the Lebanese leaders over their association with Hezbollah, and they all take their cue from Israel.
Israeli leaders have threatened that they would view the Lebanese state as part of Hezbollah in a future war with the resistance movement.
In May last year, the US Treasury imposed sanctions on the Hezbollah leadership jointly with members of the so-called Terrorist Financing and Targeting Center (TFTC), which includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE.
In late October 2018, the Trump administration imposed a new round of sanctions on Hezbollah, targeting individuals and international organizations that do business with the group.