For more than a year, the people of Lebanon have taken to the streets demanding social, political and economic reform. They are tired of living under the country’s deteriorating conditions – including rising inflation, crumbling infrastructure, water pollution and unreliable electricity -- while political leaders enrich themselves and refuse to implement needed reforms.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke about Lebanon at a recent press briefing:
“The Lebanese people clearly want their corrupt political class – so much beholden to Hezbollah – to stop ruining their country.”
On November 6, the United States took action to support the Lebanese people in their calls for reform and accountability. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned Gibran Bassil, President of the Free Patriotic Movement political party and a former Lebanese cabinet official.
The Free Patriotic Movement is a key political ally of Hezbollah. Bassil was designated under the authority of Executive Order 13818 which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, targeting corruption and serious human rights abuse around the world.
Secretary of State Pompeo pointed out that U.S. sanctions against Bassil also followed and built upon “the recent counterterrorism designations under Executive Order 13224 of former Lebanese officials, Yusuf Finyanus and Ali Hassan Khalil, who put personal interests and those of Iran-backed Hezbollah ahead of the welfare of the Lebanese people.
Through his corrupt activities, Bassil has also undermined good governance and contributed to the prevailing system of corruption and political patronage that plagues Lebanon, which has aided and abetted Hezbollah’s destabilizing activities.”
Secretary of State Pompeo said it is long past time for Lebanese political leaders “to put aside their own narrow self-interests and instead work for the people of Lebanon.”
“They want an independent nation. They want a sovereign country. They don’t want the political elites that have been corrupted through the system that was put in place and permitted them to loot and rob their country. They want freedom; they want prosperity, they want jobs.”
Those are also the things that the United States wants for Lebanon, said Secretary Pompeo: “And the sanctions we put in place against the former minister are appropriate and useful towards getting us closer to that one day where the Lebanese people can have what it is they so richly deserve.”