U.S. Ambassador Dorothy Shea just revealed that Free Patriotic Movement leader Gebran Bassil had in fact expressed a willingness to cut ties with Hezbollah.
This comes in clear contrast to what he claimed in his speech on Sunday when he addressed his relationship with Hezbollah and said that he would not betray any Lebanese in favor of a foreigner.
“Hezbollah and Iran have never threatened me with sanctions just for the sake of disagreement … on the contrary, they respect us,” he stated.
On Sunday, Bassil held a speech addressing and refusing the sanctions imposed by the U.S., which condemned his role in corruption in Lebanon and for his links to Iran-backed Hezbollah.
In remarks responding to Bassil’s speech, Ambassador Shea said that his speech included many inaccuracies that portrayed misunderstandings about how sanctions work and about U.S. policy.
The sanctions were “against the individual, not the party,” she said, stressing that the U.S. is not “sanctioning or destroying” the Free Patriotic Movement.
During his speech, Bassil vowed to sue the U.S. for damages. Responding to this, Shea reiterated that he was welcomed to contest the sanctions in a court of law in the U.S.
Bassil also complained that Shea did not warn him of the incoming sanctions, to which Shea said, “As if that was my responsibility to reveal.”
She accused him of leaking information about their exchanges and take them out of context, and hence decided to reveal something about him.
“He himself expressed willingness to break with Hezbollah on certain conditions. He actually expressed gratitude that the United States had gotten him to see how the relationship is disadvantageous to the party. Key advisors even informed me that they had encouraged Mr. Bassil to make this historic decision.”