Lebanon’s Bassil rejects U.S. sanctions as unjust and politically motivated

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Gebran Bassil, head of the Free Patriotic motion, speaks on the presidential palace in Baabda

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Influential Lebanese Christian politician Gebran Bassil stated on Sunday that U.S. sanctions in opposition to him had been unjust, politically motivated and the results of his refusal to interrupt ties with Hezbollah.

America on Friday blacklisted Bassil, the chief of Lebanon’s largest Christian political bloc and the son-in-law of President Michel Aoun, accusing him of corruption and ties to the Iranian-backed Shi’ite Hezbollah motion that Washington deems a terrorist group.

A goal of Lebanese protests in opposition to a political elite accused of pillaging the state, Bassil denied U.S. accusations of corruption and stated the difficulty didn’t come up in conversations with U.S. officers after they demanded he sever ties with Hezbollah or face sanctions.

“These sanctions are an injustice and I’ll combat them and sue for damages,” he stated in a televised speech. “Sanctions come and go, however compromising nationwide peace and unity is against the law.”

Bassil, who harbours presidential ambitions, heads the Free Patriotic Motion (FPM), which was based by Aoun, and has served as minister of telecoms, of power and water and of overseas affairs.

The U.S. Treasury Division accused Bassil of being on the “forefront of corruption in Lebanon”. He was sanctioned underneath the World Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which targets human rights abuses and corruption all over the world.

A senior U.S. official has stated Bassil’s help for Hezbollah was “each little bit of the motivation” for the sanctions.

The FPM has a political alliance with Hezbollah, which has turn out to be Lebanon’s strongest political drive. Bassil, who says the group is important to the defence of Lebanon, reiterated he wouldn’t “stab any Lebanese within the again”.

He stated the sanctions shouldn’t maintain up forming a brand new authorities to deal with a monetary meltdown, Lebanon’s worst disaster since its 1975-1990 civil conflict.

Prime Minister-designate Saad al-Hariri is navigating Lebanon’s sectarian politics to assemble a cupboard wanted to implement reforms demanded by overseas donors to deal with endemic corruption, waste and mismanagement to unlock help.

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