Decisive week for formation of government in Lebanon, says Saad Al-Hariri

A poster depicting Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Saad Al-Hariri in Beirut. (Reuters)
Updated 29 January 2019
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Decisive week for formation of government in Lebanon, says Saad Al-Hariri

  • Saad Al-Hariri: Matters are positive and will become clear within two days... This week is decisive, positively or negatively
  • Rival parties have been negotiating to form a coalition government since a national election in May

BEIRUT: This week will be decisive in efforts to form a new government in Lebanon, prime minister-designate Saad Al-Hariri said on Tuesday, adding he was “cautiously optimistic.”
Rival parties have been negotiating to form a coalition government since a national election in May, fueling concerns that a crisis is looming for the country’s heavily indebted, stagnant economy.
“Matters are positive and will become clear within two days... This week is decisive, positively or negatively,” Hariri was cited as saying in a statement from his office.
On Saturday, the leader of Lebanon’s powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah movement said “extraordinary efforts” were being made to form the government, but that two obstacles remained.
They are how to include a group of six Sunni lawmakers in the cabinet, and the distribution of government portfolios among the different political parties.
Credit ratings agency Moody’s last week downgraded Lebanon’s sovereign debt, citing the uncertain movement toward forming a government, and Lebanese bonds have suffered in recent weeks.
Lebanon is one of the world’s most indebted countries and its finance minister has said it is already in an economic crisis that has started to turn into a financial one, and hopes will not become a monetary one.


US targets two individuals, three entities in Hezbollah-related sanctions program

Updated 24 April 2019
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US targets two individuals, three entities in Hezbollah-related sanctions program

  • Targeted for sanctions under US regulations aimed at suspected terrorists or those who support them
  • Comes at a time of growing US concern about role of Hezbollah in Lebanese government

WASHINGTON: The U.S. Treasury, moving to boost pressure on Hezbollah, imposed sanctions on Wednesday against two people and three firms that Washington accuses of being involved in schemes to help the armed Shi'ite group backed by Iran evade American sanctions.

The Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) said it was targeting Belgium-based Wael Bazzi because he acted on behalf of his father Mohammad Bazzi, a Hezbollah financier.

OFAC also took action against two Belgian companies and a British-based firm controlled by Bazzi.

In addition, the US Treasury designated Lebanon-based Hassan Tabaja, who it said had acted on behalf of his brother Adham Tabajha, also a Hezbollah financier. The U.S. action freezes their assets and property and prevents U.S. citizens and businesses from dealing with them.

The two men and three businesses were targeted for sanctions under US regulations aimed at suspected terrorists or those who support them, the Treasury said in a statement. Hezbollah is considered a foreign terrorist organization by the United States.

"Treasury is relentlessly pursuing Hezbollah's financial facilitators by dismantling two of Hezbollah's most important financial networks," Treasury Undersecretary Sigal Mandelker said in a statement.

"By targeting Hassan Tabaja and Wael Bazzi and their European-based companies, this administration is continuing to disrupt all avenues of financial support relied upon by Hezbollah," he said.

The US State Department earlier this week offered a reward of up to $10 million for information that could help disrupt Hezbollah's financing.

The move to boost pressure on the group comes at a time of growing US concern about its role in the Lebanese government. Hezbollah's regional clout has expanded as it has sent fighters to Middle East conflicts, including the war in Syria, where it supported President Bashar al-Assad.