Bassil is the leader of Lebanon’s Christian Party and is also a son-in-law of Lebanese President Michel Aoun. He previously served as Foreign Minister and Energy Minister in several governments.
This makes Bassil the third Hezbollah-affiliated politician to fall under US restrictions, after President Donald Trump’s administration placed two former ministers under sanctions over accusations of aiding Hezbollah. One of them, Former finance minister Hassan Khalil, is a card-carrying member of the Shia paramilitary group which the US counts as a terrorist organization.
Bassil has been heavily involved in the formation of a new government after the nomination of Sunni leader Saad al-Hariri to the role of Prime Minister. Although Hariri maintains that the government will be made up of independent experts, behind-the-scenes negotiations with confessional parties have been ongoing to divvy up the ministerial positions.
Despite enjoying strong support among Lebanese nationalist and conservative Christians, along with the president, Bassil is largely reviled and seen as a mascot of political corruption and nepotism in the country.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented on the sanctions against Bassil on Twitter.
Lebanese leaders must listen to their people, implement reforms, and end corruption. Today, the U.S. is designating Gibran Bassil, a corrupt former cabinet minister who abused his government positions. The people of Lebanon deserve better.— Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) November 6, 2020
Bassil also posted on the microblogging platform, saying that he is not afraid of the US sanctions.
لا العقوبات اخافتني ولا الوعود أغرتني.— Gebran Bassil (@Gebran_Bassil) November 6, 2020
لا أنقلب على أي لبناني...
ولا أُنقذ نفسي ليَهلك لبنان.
اعتدت الظلم وتعلّمت من تاريخنا : كُتب علينا في هذا الشرق أن نحمل صليبنا كل يوم ... لنبقى. GB