Opinion

US imposes sanctions on businesses in Lebanon with links to Hezbollah

The United States considers the Iran-backed Hezbollah a terrorist organization and has imposed sanctions on many of the militant group’s officials in the past. (Reuters/File Photo)
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Updated 18 September 2020

US imposes sanctions on businesses in Lebanon with links to Hezbollah

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said official with close ties to the companies has also been blacklisted

CHICAGO: US authorities have imposed sanctions on two businesses in Lebanon they say are under the control of Hezbollah and profit from corruption.

Sultan Khalifa As’ad, described as a Hezbollah official with close ties to both companies, was also placed on the sanctions list

“The United States is designating Arch Consulting and Meamar Construction for being owned, controlled or directed by Hezbollah, a US-designated foreign terrorist organization and Specially Designated Global Terrorist,” Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said in a statement issued on Thursday. “We are designating Sultan Khalifa As’ad for being a leader or an official of Hezbollah.”

The businesses are “two of many companies” that report to Hezbollah’s Executive Council, he said, and the organization “has used (them) to conceal its economic activity and evade US sanctions.”

He added: “Hezbollah collaborated with former Lebanese minister Yusuf Finyanus to ensure that Arch and Meamar won Lebanese government contracts worth millions of dollars, and the companies sent a portion of those funds to Hezbollah’s Executive Council. The United States designated Finyanus on Sept. 8 for abusing his cabinet position to provide material support to Hezbollah.”

 

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Finyanus was one of a number of former Lebanese ministers accused by Washington of providing material support to Hezbollah and blacklisted this month.

Arch Consulting was previously part of, and continues to provide funds to, Jihad Al-Bina, a prominent Hezbollah-run construction company that was sanctioned by the US in 2007, Pompeo said.

“Sultan Khalifa As’ad oversees Arch, Meamar and other Hezbollah companies in his position on Hezbollah’s Executive Council, where he helps manage the terrorist group’s municipal affairs,” he added.

 

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“As’ad coordinates directly with Hashim Safi Al-Din, head of Hezbollah’s Executive Council, to guide the activities of Arch, Meamar and other Hezbollah companies.”

Pompeo said Lebanon’s political leaders have long exploited the lack of transparency in the nation’s economy to conceal their efforts to enrich themselves and their allies, while pretending to defend the rights of the people. Instead, they continue to divert lucrative contracts to political allies, despite long-running public protests against corruption.

“The Lebanese people have been demonstrating against corruption for nearly a year and demanding that their government address their basic needs after decades of political dysfunction,” Pompeo said.

“The Lebanese people deserve better, and the United States will continue to support their calls for an end to corruption and more responsive governance.”


Algerian president, 75, self isolates as pandemic spreads

Updated 24 October 2020

Algerian president, 75, self isolates as pandemic spreads

  • Tebboune is self isolating because some officials in “upper ranks of the government” are sick with COVID-19
  • “I assure you, my brothers and sisters, that I am well and healthy and that I continue my work,” he said

ALGIERS: Algeria’s 75-year-old President Abdelmadjid Tebboune is self isolating because some officials in “upper ranks of the government” are sick with COVID-19, he said in a Tweet on Saturday.
Tebboune took office in December in an election that came amidst months of mass protests which forced his predecessor Abdelaziz Bouteflika from power after 20 years.
“I assure you, my brothers and sisters, that I am well and healthy and that I continue my work,” he said, saying his decision was taken on the advice of medical staff.
The global pandemic struck Algeria’s economy as it faced long-term challenges posed by the decline of the oil and gas revenues that finance its historically lavish state spending.
So far, Algeria has officially confirmed more than 55,000 cases of the coronavirus with nearly 2,000 deaths.
Though the pandemic forced an end to the weekly mass protest marches through Algiers and other cities that lasted for more than a year, the political challenges remain.
Tebboune has pushed for changes to Algeria’s referendum to limit presidential terms while expanding the powers of the parliament and judiciary.
However, many people in the leaderless protest movement believe their core goals of replacing the old ruling elite and forcing the army to stay out of politics remain unmet.
Algerians will vote in a referendum on the new constitution on Nov. 1, with Tebboune and the country’s powerful army generals seeking a high turnout in order to turn a page on the protests.