Lebanon- US Sanctions Lebanese Politician Amid Rising Coronavirus Infections

  • US stated Bassil was an exemplary example of  "systematic corruption" in Lebanon.
  • Gebran Bassil assets in the United States will be frozen.
  • Coronavirus Infections in Lebanon Climbs

The US Treasury Department has added one of the most powerful Lebanese politicians and supporters of Hezbollah to the sanctions list on Friday Nov. 6th.  Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Basil has close ties to Iranian-backed extremist Shiites.

 

Steven Terner Mnuchin is a senior American politician, investment banker and film producer who is serving as the 77th United States Secretary of the Treasury as part of the Cabinet of Donald Trump.

US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said: “The systemic corruption in Lebanon’s political system exemplified by Bassil has helped to erode the foundation of an effective government that serves the Lebanese people. “This designation further demonstrates that the United States supports the Lebanese people in their continued calls for reform and accountability.”

The Christian politician, who is still widely regarded as an influential figure and supporter of Hezbollah’s extremist Islamists, has been accused of involvement in widespread corruption in Lebanon.

Lebanon’s Hezbollah is financially and militarily backed by the Islamic Republic and is one of the regime’s arms in the region. The United States has listed Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guards, with which it has close ties, as a terrorist organization.

According to the news sources, Gebran Bassil, he is the son-in-law of Lebanese President Michel Aoun, who is also an ally of Hezbollah’s Shiites. The US Treasury Department said in a statement that Bassil was an exemplary example of  “systematic corruption” in Lebanon, which has been instrumental in undermining the foundations for an effective government.

Gebran Bassil, a Hezbollah ally and head of the Christian-led Free Patriotic Movement, is seeking a leading role in efforts to form a new government in Lebanon.

With the embargo on the former Lebanese foreign minister, his assets in the United States will be frozen. The 50-year-old politician stated in a Twitter message that he is not afraid of US punitive measures.

Lebanon has been experiencing one of the worst economic crises in its history for months. The outbreak of the coronavirus and the deadly explosion in the port of Beirut about three months ago have made the situation in the country more critical.

Widespread anti-government protests have been going on in Lebanon for about a year now, with criticism of the inefficiency and corruption of the ruling class.

Gebran Bassil has always been one of the protagonists of the protests, due to his great influence in the Lebanese political structure and his reputation for his involvement in corruption.

Coronavirus Infections in Lebanon Climbs

The decision to completely close the country for a period of two weeks, which has become an urgent demand for those involved in the health sector, will not be resolved before next Monday, the date of the sessions of the Supreme Defense Council and the caretaker government.

While this option was previously rejected by the Ministry of Tourism and behind it the restaurant owners, independent economic interests, and others who warned of the economic repercussions of the closure.

None of the authorities can absolutely oppose it due to the worsening of the epidemic situation. The total number of infections in the country reaching more than 91,000 and exceeded those recorded in China. Lebanon ranks 58 in the world, ahead of China by one place.

Yesterday evening, the Ministry of Health announced that more than 2000 were recorded during the past twenty-four hours, five of which were expatriates), while 17 new deaths were recorded, bringing the number of deaths to 700. The number of critical cases, reached 274.

Perhaps the most dangerous indicator was translated yesterday by the death of Doctor Firdaws Safwan, a resident physician at Dar Al Amal Hospital in North Bekaa. He was infected with the virus and was transferred to intensive care at St. George Hospital in Hadath. According to the director of the St. George Hospital, Hassan Aliq.

The deceased doctor was not suffering from chronic diseases “and she was transferred to the hospital while she was in critical condition and required a high level of medical intervention.

She was previously staying in intensive care at Dar Al Amal Hospital,” while the information indicates that the doctor’s brother (25 years) had also died a few days ago as a result of being infected with the virus.

The death of Safwan was preceded by the death of both the nurse Zainab Haider and the doctor Luay Ismail.

The Ministry of Health figures indicate that the number of infected working in the health sector has reached 1477 cases, as it announced the registration of 19 new cases yesterday.

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Benedict Kasigara

I have been working as a freelance editor/writer since 2006. My specialist subject is film and television having worked for over 10 years from 2005 during which time I was the editor of the BFI Film and Television.

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