US sanctions 2 senior members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah

Sheikh Nabil Qaouk, Hezbollah’s military chief in south Lebanon, sits in front of the militia’s flag in Tyre in 2006. (File/AFP)
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Updated 24 October 2020

US sanctions 2 senior members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah

  • The sanctioned officials are Nabil Qaouk and Hassan Al-Baghdadi
  • Qaouk also served as Hezbollah’s military commander in south Lebanon from 1995 until 2010

BEIRUT: The US Treasury has sanctioned two high-ranking Hezbollah officials, including a former military commander in the country’s south.
The sanctioned officials are Nabil Qaouk and Hassan Al-Baghdadi, both members of Hezbollah’s Central Council. The Council is responsible for electing members of the group’s top decision-making body, the Shoura Council. Qaouk also served as Hezbollah’s military commander in south Lebanon from 1995 until 2010.
“Today we’re designating two Hezbollah officials, further exposing the terrorist group’s activities and disrupting its operational networks,” US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said in a tweet Friday.
The Trump administration has intensified sanctions on the Iran-backed Lebanese militant group and institutions linked to it to unprecedented levels, targeting lawmakers and allies of the group for the first time. The US considers the group, which is heavily armed and a dominant military and political force in Lebanon, to be a terrorist organization.
Last month, the US Treasury sanctioned two former Cabinet ministers allied with Hezbollah, including the country’s ex-finance minister. Those sanctions were a rare move and delivered a strong message to allies of the group in Lebanon, which is experiencing an unprecedented economic and financial crisis.
Separately, the US Treasury also sanctioned Iran’s ambassador to Iraq — a member of the Quds Force, an elite wing of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, that oversees foreign operations. Iraj Masjedi took over the political side of Iran’s Iraq portfolio after the leader of the Quds Force, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, was killed in a US attack in January this year..
Pompeo said Masjedi has directed the group’s activities for years, threatening Iraqi stability.


Egypt: Iranian nuclear issue should be linked to its regional interference

Updated 16 January 2021

Egypt: Iranian nuclear issue should be linked to its regional interference

  • Cairo’s ambassador to the US calls for cooperation with the new administration on range of issues
  • Zahran: Many opportunities for cooperation between Egypt and the US in various fields under new administration

CAIRO: Egypt believes that the Iranian nuclear issue is not the only problem with regard to Iran and its position in the region, according to Motaz Zahran, Cairo’s ambassador in Washington. Tehran’s interference and its efforts to destroy the assets of Arab countries throughout the region is another issue that must be confronted, he said.
Zahran said in a virtual interview with the National Council for US-Arab Relations that there is an opportunity for cooperation with the new US administration in light of the Iranian interference in various conflicts in the region, whether in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq or Yemen, which led to the deepening of their problems.
“The Iranian nuclear issue should not be dealt with separately from Iranian interference in all regional conflicts, and there are discussions between Egypt and the US regarding Iran, with the Republicans and the Democrats,” he added.
The ambassador said Egypt believes that there should not be any unilateral move on the issue of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. He saw a need for the new US administration to play a constructive role in resolving the dam dispute.
There are, he said, many opportunities for cooperation between Egypt and the US in various fields under the new administration of President-elect Joe Biden.
The meeting was moderated by Ed Royce, former US representative, who chaired the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Answering a question on the storming of the Capitol building on Jan. 6, Zahran said it was sad and shocking for Egypt and the whole world, and he linked what happened in America to what Egypt witnessed when some extremist groups — mainly the Muslim Brotherhood — took advantage of large-scale demonstrations and turned them into violent protests.
He pointed out that in both nations there was a widespread national desire for unity among the people which followed the state of chaos. There are some lessons to be learned, the most important of which is that rights and freedoms, in general, are not absolute, but are linked to guaranteeing others’ rights, as well as achieving order, security and public peace.