US considering sanctions against Lebanon officials: Top diplomat
The top two US House Foreign Affairs Committee lawmakers slammed Lebanon’s central bank governor, Riad Salameh, as well as those responsible for the catastrophic Beirut Port blast in 2020.
The US is considering sanctions on top Lebanese officials for their continued obstruction of electing a new president in the country, a top State Department official said Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the top two US House Foreign Affairs Committee lawmakers urged the Biden administration to sanction Lebanese individuals for corruption and to “make clear to Lebanon’s political class that the status quo is not acceptable.”
Since last October, Lebanon has had no president and a fully functioning government. Pro-Syria parties, including Hezbollah and the Amal Movement, are backing Sleiman Frangieh, who has long boasted of his close ties with Bashar al-Assad.
Opposition groups and the Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement, have reportedly agreed to endorse Jihad Azour, a former finance minister and current International Monetary Fund (IMF) employee.
During a Senate committee hearing on the Middle East, the top US diplomat for the region said the US was considering the possibility of sanctions.
Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf said Washington was working with regional and European partners to push the Lebanese parliament to do its job. “It’s a collective effort,” Leaf said.
Separately, the members of Congress slammed Lebanon’s central bank governor, Riad Salameh, as well as those responsible for the catastrophic Beirut Port blast in 2020.
Salameh has an Interpol arrest warrant out for him, and there are charges against him from Germany and France over alleged corruption.
As for the Beirut blast, Hezbollah and its allies have blocked the lead investigative judge for months from his probe. Arrest warrants and investigative orders have been issued against former and current officials who refuse to comply with the judiciary.
“We also call on the Administration to continue pressing for full accountability for the August 2020 Beirut Port Blast and support independent, international investigatory efforts into egregious fraud and malfeasance by the Governor of Lebanon’s Central Bank,” Congressmen Mike McCaul and Gregory Meeks said in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “We must not allow Lebanon to be held hostage by those looking to advance their own selfish interests.”
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