The Trump administration is expected to impose sanctions Friday on the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM)’s leader, former Foreign Minister, and Hezbollah ally, Gebran Bassil
This is in an effort to chip away at Hezbollah’s grip on power, according to people briefed on the move – reported the Wall Street Journal.
A U.S. official and another person briefed on the plan said the U.S. is preparing sanctions on Bassil for helping Hezbollah, a U.S. designated terrorist organization.
The move is expected to shake up attempts at forming a new cabinet in Lebanon as the country faces an economic and political crisis.
This decision has been in the works for some time now and pressure has been mounting for Washington to take action against Bassil for providing political cover to the Iran-backed Hezbollah.
The White House has been expediting sanctions against targets in the Middle East despite that only 11 weeks remain until the end of the current presidential term.
The decision has been already approved in principle by the U.S. Treasury Department and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is expected to unveil the sanctions in Washington, on Friday, by 12 pm EST (7 pm Beirut time).
Bassil is the former foreign minister of Lebanon, and president of the Free Patriotic Movement political party that was created by his father-in-law, the current president of Lebanon, Michel Aoun.
Just two weeks ago, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) brought new sanctions against Hezbollah leadership figures as well as Iranian entities. It targeted Nabil Qaouk and Hassan Baghdadi, members of Hezbollah’s executive Central Council.
As the sanctions were imposed, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin said, “Hezbollah’s senior leaders are responsible for creating and implementing the terrorist organization’s destabilizing and violent agenda against US interests and those of our partners around the world.”