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US sanctions former Lebanese ministers for supporting Hezbollah

US sanctions former Lebanese ministers for supporting Hezbollah

Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo warns any arms sales to Iran will result in sanctions as embargo expires Trump turns his ire toward Cabinet members Azerbaijan accuses Armenia of missile strike that killed at least 13 MORE on Tuesday announced sanctions on two former Lebanese parliamentary ministers for providing support to Hezbollah, the U.S.-designated terrorist organization that operates both a political party and military wing.

The former officials, Yusuf Finyanus and Ali Hassan Khalil, are being sanctioned for using their positions to direct political and economic favors to Hezbollah, Pompeo said in a statement, amounting to millions of dollars in government contracts.

Finyanus served as the minister of transportation and public works and Khalil is the former minister of finance.

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“While holding positions in previous Lebanese Cabinets, Finyanus and Khalil directed political and economic favors to Hizballah, including ensuring Hizballah-owned companies won government contracts worth millions of dollars and moving money from government ministries to Hizballah-associated institutions,” Pompeo said.

“Today’s designations demonstrate that Lebanese politicians who have provided a false veneer of political legitimacy to Hizballah or abused their positions to direct public funds to the terrorist group are as responsible for its entrenched influence as Hizballah’s own members or the corrupt businessmen and money launderers that have helped fund the group for decades,” he added.

The Treasury Department also said in a statement that the designations “underscore how some Lebanese politicians have conspired with Hizballah at the expense of the Lebanese people and institutions.”

The sanctions come as Lebanon struggles to recover from a catastrophic explosion last month at the port of Beirut believed to have been caused by about 2,500 tons of improperly stored ammonium nitrate catching fire.

An estimated 178 people were killed, 6,500 injured and some 300,000 left homeless after the massive blast leveled large swaths of the city. Billions of dollars in reconstruction costs are estimated.

The preventable catastrophe was seen as one of the most egregious examples of Lebanon’s political mismanagement and corruption. Mass popular protests led in January to a new government that resigned last month in the aftermath of the explosion.