05:48 GMT30 November 2020
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    BEIRUT (Sputnik) – The US sanctions against Gebran Bassil, the president of Lebanon's Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) party and a key ally of Hezbollah, have a direct impact on Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Ghassan Atallah, the ex-minister for the displaced and a member of the FPM political department, told Sputnik.

    The US Treasury on Friday sanctioned Bassil for alleged corruption under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, which aims to combat human rights abuses, and Executive Order 13818, which allows blocking property of people involved in human rights abuse or corruption.

    The step made Bassil the third Hezbollah-linked politician to fall under US restrictions after President Donald Trump's administration placed two former ministers under sanctions over accusations of aiding Hezbollah.

    "Sanctions against Bassil are of particular relevance, as they directly affect the country's president. Gebran Bassil is the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, whose founder and ideological leader is President Michel Aoun", Ghassan Atallah said.

    These restrictions will inevitably influence all of Lebanon, as the party led by Bassil has the largest faction in parliament and "a significant number of supporters", Atallah added.

    Lebanon's caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil attends the Doha Forum 2019 at the Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel in Doha, Qatar, December 14th of 2019.
    © AFP 2020 / AMMAR ABD RABBO
    Lebanon's caretaker Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil attends the Doha Forum 2019 at the Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel in Doha, Qatar, December 14th of 2019.

    The US administration is guided by its own personal objectives and trying to exert pressure on the Lebanese authorities, forcing them to agree on a number of issues against the nation's interest, the senior Lebanese politician stated, noting that Aoun was pressed to give Palestinian refugees permission for naturalisation, allow Syrian refugees to stay for an uncertain period and also consent to conditions on the demarcation of the disputed maritime border with Israel on the ground of maps provided by the latter.

    When asked about links between the sanctions and the US attempts to exclude Hezbollah from the new government by pressing its political ally, the FPM, Atallah highlighted that the Shia party was presented in all cabinets of newly-appointed Prime Minister Saad Hariri, while former premier Rafik Hariri, who was assassinated in 2005, officially had enjoyed good relations with Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.

    "I believe that sanctions should be introduced firstly against Prime Minister Hariri", Atallah said.

    Relationships built between the FPM and Hezbollah have "caused inconvenience to many countries," the Lebanese official added, noting that everyone thought that these ties were only formal and temporary, but, in fact, the two sides have found them of a different nature "despite daily disagreements on internal issues".

    Newly elected Lebanese president Michel Aoun sits on the president's chair inside the presidential palace in Baabda, near Beirut, Lebanon October 31, 2016
    © REUTERS / Aziz Taher
    Newly elected Lebanese president Michel Aoun sits on the president's chair inside the presidential palace in Baabda, near Beirut, Lebanon October 31, 2016

    The pressure on the FPM leader had started with the outbreak of unrest in Lebanon in 2019, Atallah said. According to him, the US launched a campaign to discredit Bassil after it realised that there was no opportunity to reach a deal with him, and the sanctions were the last step in a bid to remove the former minister from the political life of Lebanon, who is now heavily involved in the formation of a new government under Hariri's leadership.

    Tags:
    Gebran Bassil, Michel Aoun, US sanctions, sanctions, Lebanon, Hezbollah, Hezbollah, US
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