The shares of this announcement rose after the sanctions that targeted the two ministers, Ali Hassan Khalil and Youssef Fenianos, for the same reasons and data, corruption in administration and governance, and securing the interests of Hezbollah through the Lebanese state, and it was clear that Bassil was next.
Washington was clear about its target from the start, but what was surprising was the “in stoppage time” timing of the intense presidential race in the United States. While the Lebanese were awaiting the identity of the next US president, to try to clarify the future of US policies towards Lebanon and the position of its political parties, the announcement of these sanctions was a clear message that the US approach to dealing with Lebanon will be steady and continuous, regardless of the identity of the next president or his party’s foreign policies. .
The attention of the Lebanese people is turning inside after days have been directed towards the United States, and in the midst of the presidential candidates ’struggle in Washington, one of the most prominent presidential candidates in Beirut fell, and with him a political ambition that did not meet the practice, so that Gebran Bassil’s name ended up hanging on the US sanctions list in support of the“ Magnitsky ”law Which targets corruption and gross violations of human rights around the world.
Corruption and Hezbollah
Researcher at the Institute for the Defense of Democracy, Tony Badran, believes that the penalties issued against Gebran Bassil today are different from the previous sanctions against Ministers Yusef Fenianos and Ali Hassan Khalil, because they are based on the law “Magnitsky” related to combating corruption mainly, while the sanctions data include a reference Basil’s relationship with Hezbollah, but that was not primarily the cause of the sanctions. “Sanctions reveal the foreign policy of the United States of America towards the internal political situation, and the announcement of sanctions against Bassil at this time is related to highlighting Washington’s ability to impose technical sanctions based on the presence of irrefutable evidence of Bassil’s corruption, and this is the basic premise for the sanctions.”
This matter was explained by the US Secretary of the Treasury, Stephen Mnuchin, commenting on the sanctions imposed on Bassil, who said, “Systematic corruption in the Lebanese political system, which Bassil represented, helped undermine the foundations of an effective government that serves the Lebanese people, and therefore this classification shows that the United States supports The Lebanese people in their continuous calls for reform and accountability. ”
Commenting on this decision, however, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo noted in his statement that “today’s actions are based on the latest classifications of counterterrorism under Executive Order No. 13224 of former Lebanese officials, Yusef Fenianos and Ali Hassan Khalil, who have advanced personal interests and those of the Iran-backed Hezbollah On the interest of the Lebanese people, ”considering that“ Bassil, through his corrupt activities, undermined good governance and contributed to the prevailing corruption and political favoritism system that afflicted Lebanon, which aided and contributed to Hezbollah’s destabilizing activities. ”
In the political sense, the United States presents itself today as being on the side of the Lebanese against the entire corrupt political system in Lebanon, Bassil and others, given that any corruption in Lebanon will automatically serve the interest of Hezbollah, which benefits from the weakening of the state, but not the basis for these sanctions. Targeting Hezbollah’s political allies directly, but specifically the corrupt ones.
The biggest example of this, according to Badran: He is Suleiman Franjieh, known for his political alliance with Hezbollah, and he is the political reference for the former Minister Youssef Fenianos, who was imposed on him by Washington last September. In spite of this, US Assistant Secretary of State David Schenker did not hesitate to visit Franjieh, while he did not meet Basil during his two visits to Lebanon.
The legal dimension
Lawyer and researcher in international law, Ali Zbeeb, explains the nature of these penalties, as he believes that even if these sanctions are American, their repercussions and effects will be international, as they are issued in accordance with American laws, “and therefore there is no obligation on any country, including Lebanon, to apply it according to the rule of law. In fact, it is imposed to be taken into consideration globally, neither Lebanese banks are able to risk severing their relations with American correspondent banks, nor any international bank or commercial company that dares to deal with a person who is subject to sanctions, and therefore when a person is placed on the sanctions list, as is the case with Gebran Bassil This means that he is totally removed from the global financial system, and he is not entitled to deal with any accounts or commercial operations, and that affects his assets and branches according to a complex mechanism.
Zbeeb is unlikely to be affected by the Free Patriotic Movement, as a political body, with these penalties, as it affects Basil himself, his origins and branches, and does not legally affect the Free Patriotic Movement, which carries a moral character and its accounts are separate from Bassil, but with politics, everything can be affected by the effects of these sanctions, I expect that he will mobilize all available legal means and will make a great effort in the law to pursue this case and appeal the decision, and this is legally possible if he relies on his international relations and his lawyers and legal advisors, and we cannot forget that Basil, through his position in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, succeeded In establishing a network of international relations that extends even within the United States, so that the Lebanese ambassador in Washington is affiliated with the Free Patriotic Movement politically, and thus a large legal and political lobby can be formed in order to deal with this decision and get rid of the guillotine.
The former MP for the Future Movement, Ahmed Fatfat, believes that the US sanctions against Bassil today have two headings. The first is political, which is the alliance with and support for Hezbollah, and the second title is corruption, “as Gebran Bassil has become exposed to the whole world.”
He added in his statement to Al-Hurra: “Today we are facing a new reality, and Lebanon needs the best relations with the largest possible number with the countries of the world and the Arab countries in particular in order to extricate it from its economic crisis, and therefore, starting from this moment, any dealings with Gebran Bassil as a political reality means More disconnection from the world and a break in support of Lebanon, not only for the United States, but also at the European and Arab level.
“It is not possible today to place a person on whom this type of sanctions is in positions or positions or in a position of responsibility as a minister or president, for example,” Zbeeb asserts, and the most prominent reasons are that “he can no longer be present on American soil, and his entry visas are canceled, and it is even more frightening that America today It is able to make a decision based on its laws of an extraterritorial nature, which means that the United States is able to say that everyone who deals with a person listed on the sanctions lists will be subject to sanctions, and therefore any country in the world, institution or ministry will not risk dealing with a listed minister On the sanctions list. ”
Zbeeb continues: “From here, yes, it is possible to talk about eliminating Basil’s political future in the next stage. The same is true for his presidential ambition, as it is impossible to imagine a president of the country listed on the list of US sanctions, this matter is destructive locally and internationally, and he will be a president isolated from the world.”
Fatfat gives an example of the president of Kosovo, who was forced to resign after international accusations were directed against him, and after 48 hours became in another reality, to say that “the dream of the presidency for Gebran Bassil ended before it began, as he cannot have ambitions at this level, while his practices are on another level.” Quite the opposite, the Lebanese people discovered this before, and since the beginning of the revolution it was clear that the private targeting of Gebran Bassil was, and therefore this dream was not achievable from the beginning and Gebran Bassil was not originally qualified for this kind of political ambitions, as a result of his accumulation of fatal mistakes inside the Lebanese interior before To reach abroad, where his behavior has undermined many of Lebanon’s international relations. ”
He continues: “The same applies to the minister, as a minister is a person affected by sanctions that represents a challenge to the whole world and the international community, and in practice this will be reflected in Lebanon’s opportunities, especially with the International Monetary Fund, which makes its decisions based on several financial, economic, and political factors as well. Thus when someone presents himself to assume responsibility In general, in the country, he must be qualified to secure the country’s interests. Is Gebran Bassil qualified today to secure Lebanon’s interests?
Is the formation of the government affected?
Fatfat confirms that these sanctions will undoubtedly affect the formation of the new government headed by Hariri in Lebanon, and “it is all about the behavior of the Free Patriotic Movement in the coming days, especially if it tries to compensate politically for these sanctions by trying to achieve moral gains in the government, and this means More obstruction. But if the national trend is affected by a return to the origins of government formation announced by Saad Hariri, this means returning to a government of specialists and here there is no problem, but experience says that Gebran Bassil is a stubborn and fierce figure and he will try to pressure to play a greater role and compensate indirectly in politics But it is too late today for this compensation.
Fatfat expects the popularity of Basil and the Free Patriotic Movement to be affected in the Christian arena in Lebanon, and it is unlikely that it will succeed in tightening the Christian nerve around it after these sanctions. He is unable to secure it after he has torpedoed all its international and Arab relations and threw Lebanon’s interest in the bosom of an economically collapsing Iran as well. Therefore, the Christian component, which is a major nerve of the Lebanese economy and the banking, educational and health sector, will not intensify in favor of Bassil’s policy in support of Hezbollah and its interests, while Hezbollah sells People are delusional to become involved with him, and when they are drowning, they drown on their own, ”concluding that“ Hezbollah is first affected by these sanctions that target its allies, especially with regard to the Christian cover that its alliance with the Free Patriotic Movement secures for it. ”
And stresses that “the message of the Americans today was clear through accusing and condemning Basil of corruption and not through his relationship with Hezbollah, even if they were blindsided by this channel, but there was no kind of accusation. This is more concerned because the message in this case is that these sanctions are … Firstly, al-Ghaith, while the next phase may bear other options, including targeting him with the law preventing international financing of Hezbollah (HIFBA) based on the relationship and alliance between Basil and the party, and this imprints Basil’s name with terrorism, and this is totally destructive at all levels.
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