This Is What Gebran Bassil Had To Say About The U.S. Sanctions

CNBC

In response to the sanctions imposed on him this week by the U.S., the head of the Free Patriotic Movement in , , gave a press conference on Sunday, to defend or explain his position to the Lebanese public.

He announced that talks of the US sanctions began back in the summer of 2018, during the formation of the second government of PM Saad El-Hariri.

Tamas Kovacs/MTI via AP

He revealed that he became a minister in that government due to Hariri’s own insistence. He was told back then that it is important that he becomes the Foreign Minister due to the position’s diplomatic immunity that prevents the imposition of sanctions.

During his speech, he stressed that he will not save himself if that meant the destruction of and that the sanctions do not scare him.

He said: “This idea sums up what I went through in the recent period in my relationship with America in regards of and . The truth is that the road with America has always been difficult, but we are forced to walk it and endure injustice to remain free in our homeland and protect from division and fighting.”

Reuter | Mohamed Azakir

He also said that a senior American official contacted President and asked him to end his connections with immediately and that they never once raised the issue of corruption. “I have repeatedly asked the US and international officials to help me fight corruption and return the stolen money,” Gebran said, “but there was no response.”

He asked: “If I agreed to cut the relationship with , will I still be accused of corruption?”

“I refused the US Secretary of State’s description of as a terrorist and I refused to cut connections with the party because that would lead to sedition… The Americans are seeking to create disorder in and they stepped up their efforts during my participation in the government in 2017.”

The US Imposes New Sanctions On Hezbollah Officials And Iranian Entities
AFP

Bassil said that he will work to assign a law firm with the aim of nullifying the sanctions‘ decision. That is because. according to him, this decision lacks a legal basis. Plus, he will request moral and material compensation.

“I couldn’t believe that the largest country in the world was not providing any evidence or proof of its accusations.” It is to note that there is a lawsuit filed in the U.S. against Bassil and other FPM members and Lebanese officials in a case involving alleged “kidnapping, extortion, and torture” of a Lebanese-American couple.

Bassil blamed for the US sanctions on him, alleging ’s aim to strike the Christians in and out of the region.

“These sanctions come from , which is in its interest to strike Christians in Lebanon and deport them from the region… Americans should know that the sanctions will not weaken , and they will defend themselves,” he issued, although is not a Christian party but an -backed Shia one.

As for his relationship with the party, Bassil said that he cannot betray any Lebanese in favor of a foreigner. “Hezbollah and have never threatened me with sanctions just for the sake of disagreement … on the contrary, they respect us.”

Finally, he expressed that the formation of the new government in Lebanon should be done soon. He also congratulated the new US President , declaring his intention to work with the new administration to develop relations between them.


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