BEIRUT (Dispatches) – U.S. sanctions on Lebanon are an act of aggression and a failed attempt to "bring Lebanon to its knees,” Lebanese Hezbollah’s deputy secretary general says.
"The U.S. sanctions are aimed at changing the political equation in Lebanon,” Sheikh Qassem said in an interview with RT Arabic.
He said U.S. sanctions imposed on Lebanese figures or entities wouldn’t weaken the Lebanese people’s determination.
The Hezbollah official said the U.S.’s policy toward Lebanon was to keep the country "under pressure.”
The United States expanded sanctions related to Lebanon on Tuesday by blacklisting two former government ministers, including Amal’s Ali Hassan Khalil. It said the two men had aided the Hezbollah resistance movement.
Amal movement said on Wednesday Washington’s move to impose sanctions on one of its members was like targeting the whole nation. It is one of the dominant factions in Lebanon’s fractious sectarian political system.
The U.S. move comes at a sensitive time, as a new government is being formed under a tight deadline in a bid to extricate Lebanon from a deep economic crisis that poses the biggest threat to the country’s stability since the 1975-1990 civil war.
"This (U.S.) decision will not change our convictions and our national and patriotic principles at all,” Amal said in a statement.
The group said it would not be swayed by the U.S. move and added imposing sanctions on Khalil was like "targeting Lebanon and its sovereignty.”
The United States also blacklisted former Transport Minister Yusuf Finyanus, a Christian politician who is a member of a party that is also allied to Hezbollah.
Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib, named after the last government quit following a massive Beirut port blast in August, is seeking to form a cabinet by early next week.
Hezbollah also denounced the sanctions in a statement issued on Wednesday, saying the administration of President Donald Trump was "a terrorist authority” wreaking havoc throughout the world.
On May 16, 2018, the United States and several of its partners, including Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, imposed sanctions on Hezbollah leadership, targeting its Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah and Sheikh Naim Qassem.
The Trump administration imposed additional sanctions on Hezbollah in late October 2018, targeting individuals and international organizations that did business with the group.