Shankar warns Hezbollah’s allies … “you will be held accountable”


The US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, David Schenker, confirmed that sanctions were imposed on the two former ministers, Yusef Fenianos and Ali Hassan Khalil, for providing terrorist support to Hezbollah, warning the party’s political allies that they would be “held accountable.””We imposed sanctions on Fenianos and Ali Hassan Khalil for providing material support to Hezbollah, in addition to the fact that they were involved in providing economic and financial services to the party and in acts of corruption that enabled the party to carry out its work in Lebanon,” he said.

Schenker explained that these sanctions should be a message to everyone in Lebanon that “there must be different policies.”

He stressed that “Hezbollah’s political allies must know that they will be held accountable for facilitating the party’s terrorist activities.””The sanctions targeting Hezbollah, its supporters, and other corrupt players will continue, and we will use all powers to hold the Lebanese leaders accountable for failing to fulfill their duties towards the Lebanese people,” Schenker added in a telephone press conference.

Schenker refused to enter into naming the people who will be included in the US sanctions in the future. He also refused to talk about whether the former minister, Gebran Bassil, and the governor of the Central Bank of Lebanon, Riad Salameh, were among them. But he said, “These sanctions take a long time to prepare because of the level of their quality and are reviewed by lawyers from various US agencies … I hope that we can get a larger set of these sanctions as soon as possible.”

On the French initiative in Lebanon and whether there is an understanding between the French and American sides about it, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs said, “We have always said that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization that has engaged in the Lebanese political process and has terrorized many Lebanese people and politicians.”

“In this context, we have a difference of opinion with the French government, which recognizes that Hezbollah is a legitimate political organization and a legitimate political party, and this is the small disagreement between us and the French government,” said Schenker.

“We do not believe that meetings should be held to legislate this organization and personalities affiliated with it, such as a meeting with a member of parliament, Muhammad Raad (a member of the Hezbollah bloc). But apart from this point, as Secretary Pompeo said, we believe that the French initiative has many advantages. A government committed to reform, transparency, fighting corruption and self-distancing, and a government that brings experts who do what is necessary to achieve a reform agenda and help the Lebanese people. These are requirements that open the way for financial aid. ”

He said, “I think we are on the same page with the French, and this is what we heard from the French president’s office that those who are trying to obstruct reform, the French government is looking to classify them and impose sanctions on them as well, and we believe that this is a fruitful approach.”

Regarding the United States ’position on the new Lebanese prime minister, Schenker pointed out that“ we focus on principles more than personalities in dealing with the new Lebanese government, and therefore I will not comment on the newly appointed Lebanese Prime Minister. We focus heavily on the concept of reform that any new government must implement. From now on, practice transparency and hold the corrupt accountable. There must be a government that fights corruption and a government that adheres to the principle of self-distancing and removing Lebanon from the policies of the countries of the region. If it does all these things and abides by them, then we look forward to working with it. ”

On the mediation he is undertaking to demarcate the maritime and land borders between Lebanon and Israel, Schenker said, “I think that we are close to resolving the issue of border demarcation. We have been involved in this matter for a bit and I do not want to go into details of what is going on.”

He pointed out that Lebanon’s agreement to the framework agreement on which Ambassador David Satterfield worked, opens an opportunity for Israel and Lebanon to achieve real progress.

“I will not go into the details of what freezes the situation, and I hope to go to Lebanon and sign the agreement in the next few weeks,” Schenker said.

The US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs revealed that he met Ali Hamdan, Adviser to the Speaker of Parliament, Nabih Berri, and said, “I hope and believe that we are making gradual progress in the dialogue on border demarcation, and I look forward to ending the framework agreement so that Lebanon and Israel can move to discuss the border issue. It took a long time. ”

Schenker described Ismail Haniyeh’s visit to Lebanon as counterproductive to the region, and Haniyeh described him as a terrorist affiliated with a terrorist organization.

He said, “I do not think that countries should provide a visa for such personalities to enter their territories.”

Schenker explained that, during his recent visit to Lebanon, he conveyed to the Lebanese people a message that the United States is committed to helping them recover after the terrible explosion that occurred in the Beirut port on the fourth of August.

He added that he expressed support for the Lebanese legitimate calls for political and economic reforms, transparency and accountability, and the elimination of corruption, which is destroying Lebanon’s capabilities.

Schenker pointed out that next month marks the first anniversary of the Lebanese people taking to the streets to demand reform.

He stressed that “the Lebanese people want to fulfill their demand for real change and to achieve a new political path committed to reform and fighting corruption.”


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