Attorney Dr. Antoine Sfeir pointed out to a professor of international law, that European sanctions will target the political business class.
The difficulty in getting the political process out of the “neck of obstruction” and access to the formation of the government that is stuck in the game of narrow internal accounts and the multi-directional regional one, brought the “affectionate mother” out of its stage, after the master of the “Elysee Palace” extended a “lifeline” to the political class that was shaken Its thrones after the October 17, 2019 revolution, almost happened after the Beirut Port bombing on August 4, 2020.
The ruling system grabbed the French initiative, but it quickly turned against it, and it is still in its way, while the country is just around the corner from the financial, economic and social “big impact”, and its security implications.
After a series of French warnings embraced by a European and American embrace, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian went out, using the popular proverb “the last ironing medicine”, to announce that his country had started measures to prevent entry to French territory, for figures who “we consider obstructing the political process and engaging in corruption”, repeating that Those responsible for obstruction must understand that France will not remain silent, and that it has begun, with its European partners, to work on executive steps to pressure them.
This announcement, which was not attached to the disclosure of the list of targeted names, was followed by a visit by the chief French diplomat to Beirut next Wednesday, and it was understood, in principle, that it was the last opportunity for “those concerned about it” before the list was published and put into effect.
The “French measures” were preceded by US sanctions against Lebanese figures, and European sanctions are expected to follow, which raises a number of questions about the difference between the nature of each of them, the extent to which they will reach, and the legal and political implications that they will entail.
“Al-Rai” was singled out in its answer by a professor of international law, the attorney Dr. Antoine Sfeir.
What is the difference between US and European sanctions, and which are more effective?
– US sanctions are related to US law and came in accordance with US laws in effect, and bind institutions that deal with the United States and of course banks, given that the latter is part of the global banking system led by the United States, especially with regard to the issue of the dollar and elsewhere.
American sanctions have a greater political meaning than their practical meaning for some Lebanese, because perhaps many Lebanese politicians, who were or will be included in these sanctions, do not have ownership in the United States, or specific funds or interests.
However, the sanctions have certain effects through their removal from the global banking system, if it is in Lebanese banks, or in any bank that deals in US dollars, or with American institutions, or with the US government, and thus the person covered by the sanctions becomes a persona non grata in many countries, i.e. He is not given a “visa” nor facilities for traffic, or any other services.
As for the European sanctions, they have a political and practical meaning as well, given that many Lebanese politicians have smuggled money and have accounts in European banks, or bought with the money they gained from politics, whether from the treasury or through the exchange of influence, properties, palaces and others, perhaps in France and elsewhere. And this came from the money of corruption and wear that led the country to collapse, because there are people above the law.
Consequently, European sanctions, and French in particular, have a great impact, especially if they are prevented from entering French and European lands, and thus they become completely isolated, as well as if American sanctions were imposed on them, and they left the global system, so that their activities are limited to some countries that receive them.
But even these countries cannot open bank accounts for them, especially if their money is frozen. On the day the funds are frozen, the owner must confirm the legitimacy of these funds, and of course I do not think that a person with hundreds of millions of dollars is able to give justification for these funds except through theft, plunder and waste of public money.
* Le Drian announced the start of procedures to prevent Lebanese personalities from entering French territory, as they obstruct the political process and are involved in corruption, and he talked about discussing additional measures … What are the possibilities he is talking about? The French position, expressed by Le Drian, is a principled position.
First, we did not know the names! But why is it not known? The names must be known because the power of the decision is in its declaration, and thus announcing the names that are prohibited from entering the French territories and whose funds will be frozen is an important matter.
And if the funds are not frozen, the decision remains a ritual and useless one.
France had to make this decision since its initiative was dropped when Ambassador Mustapha Adib, then prime minister designate at the time, apologized (September 2020).
At that time, the French initiative collapsed, and France had to take a decisive stand against the political class, that is, the political “business” class in Lebanon, which robbed its people and brought the country and the people to what they had reached.
Thus, if the measures are still being studied, this is an additional weakness in the French position.
The French position must be decisive, that is, to be prevented from entering French territory, and to freeze money and property, because most of it comes from illegal sources.
To what extent will these sanctions affect the political future of whom they will address?
– Of course, sanctions affect the Lebanese political future, because Lebanon is a country of communication, a country of mission, and a country of services, and it must communicate with all countries, and it has interests here and there.
No person can assume full responsibility, neither in the ministry, nor in the presidency of the republic, or the presidencies of the council and the government, if he is punished, especially since European sanctions make the Lebanese politician effectively out of service, even if he has voice speeches, or some of his applauders, and some Sympathizers who have interests with him.
Sanctions mean a heavy and almost fatal blow to the involved Lebanese politician, if he did not reach the polish of his image. I think that when this issue includes several people, currents, or parties, it affects an entire political class, and therefore the issue of reconsideration becomes difficult.
Are we on the road to reaching the stage of sanctions imposed by the European Union?
– Until now, the consensus in the European Union may not have been secured, considering that perhaps one or two states did not agree on this issue, but at a later stage, I think that the French sanctions will turn into European sanctions, because the issue is proceeding within an international framework that tends to punish the “business” class. The politician who stole her people and gave nothing, and is still procrastinating and procrastinating.
Even when the Beirut catastrophe occurred, due to the explosion of the port on the fourth of last August, which destroyed a third of the capital, there were no officials responsible for that, the political officials did not bear any consequences, and no one was punished.
In addition, no file related to corruption has reached its end, lying is widespread on all sides, and we have reached the gates of a comprehensive collapse, both socially, economically, and perhaps security as well.
[Asharq Al-Awsat]Do you expect a change in behavior from the powers that will be targeted by the French and perhaps European sanctions at a later time? Have we witnessed a change with those affected by the US sanctions … Take, for example, former ministers Gebran Bassil, Youssef Fenianos, or Ali Hassan Khalil?
– God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. The Lebanese political class lives within certain standards, that is, standards of non-oversight, non-accountability, and obtaining of everything, through or against the law.
But the problem today is that we have become in a dangerous situation that no longer tolerates procrastination and we do not have the luxury of time, and therefore I do not think that any betting that the political class changes its pattern will lead to the desired result.
Change comes through the overthrow of the political “business” class through free and transparent parliamentary elections, in which political money is not used to buy consciences after they have impoverished people, and thus Lebanon will have the ability to reach true sovereignty over its land and its decision.
The ministers must be professionals and independents who, along with international institutions, will determine the criteria for revitalizing the Lebanese situation, holding the corrupt accountable, and recovering the stolen funds in Lebanon and abroad, and the whole world knows where it is.