US puts Hezbollah MPs in Lebanon on sanctions list for first time

US Treasury announces sanctions on three Hezbollah figures, including two members of Lebanon's Parliament.

    This combination of three photo shows, from left, Wafiq Safa, a top Hezbollah security official, and Lebanon Parliament members Muhammad Hasan Ra''d and Amin Sherri in Beirut [Files: Hussein Malla/AP Photo]
    This combination of three photo shows, from left, Wafiq Safa, a top Hezbollah security official, and Lebanon Parliament members Muhammad Hasan Ra''d and Amin Sherri in Beirut [Files: Hussein Malla/AP Photo]

    The US Treasury added three top Hezbollah figures to its list of sanctioned individuals on Tuesday, including two members of the Lebanese Parliament and a security official responsible for coordinating between Hezbollah and Lebanon's security agencies.

    It was the first time the US Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control had designated a member of Lebanon's Parliament under a sanctions list that targets those accused by Washington of providing support to "terrorist organisations".

    Washington has designated Hezbollah as a "terrorist" group.

    OFAC said it had added Amin Sherri and Muhammad Hasan Ra'ad, both members of Lebanon's Parliament, for acting on behalf of Hezbollah. In an unusual move, it also released photos of the individuals, including one in which Iranian Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani has his arm around Sherri's shoulder.

    OFAC said it also designated Wafiq Safa, who is in charge of Hezbollah's Liaison and Coordination Unit responsible for coordinating with Lebanese security agencies. 

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    The action by the US Treasury bars US citizens from dealing with the three individuals and blocks any assets they may hold in the United States. It also limits their ability to access the US financial system.

    A Trump administration official who briefed reporters on the sanctions said the US wanted the designations to have a "chilling effect" on anyone who does business with Hezbollah.

    "The message is actually that the rest of the Lebanese government needs to sever its dealings with these figures that we're designating today," a State Department official said.

    A Hezbollah politician on Tuesday slammed the US move as "humiliation" for Lebanon.

    The US decision "is a humiliation for the Lebanese people", Ali Fayyad told Lebanon's MTV news channel, according to its website, and called on parliament and the government to issue a formal condemnation.

    The newest sanctions brought to 50 the number of Hezbollah individuals and entities blacklisted by the Treasury since 2017.

    SOURCE: News agencies