More Lebanese officials to face sanctions after Gebran Bassil

More Lebanese officials to face sanctions after Gebran Bassil
Gibran Bassil peaks with lawmaker Ziad Asswad, center, a member of his parliament bloc, at the presidential palace, in Baabda east of Beirut, Lebanon. (File/AP)
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Updated 07 November 2020

More Lebanese officials to face sanctions after Gebran Bassil

More Lebanese officials to face sanctions after Gebran Bassil
  • No Lebanese politician should be feeling happy, says US source
  • Bassil tried to reason with the Americans but they would have have none of it, the source added

NEW YORK: Gebran Bassil may be the first Lebanese politician to be subjected to sanctions under the Magnitsky Act — designed to punish corruption and human rights violations — but he certainly won’t be the only one.
According to a US official source — who asked to remain anonymous — 23 other Lebanese politicians and individuals have also been blacklisted.
Two months ago, the State Department contacted those designated — in addition to Bassil — and set an ultimatum for them to alter behavior or face isolation through sanctions.
The official told Arab News that, while four managed to get off the list, the other 19 had tried to get around the requirements “by going around, offering to strike deals, hoping to outsmart the US administration.”
Some with close ties to Bassil did not relent in “backstabbing Bassil, thinking that would get them off the hook. It didn’t work out.”
However, the official warned that “no Lebanese politician should be feeling happy. Some of the individuals blacklisted are close to Saad Hariri (the Lebanese Prime Minister), as well. So, no one feels happy about Bassil’s misfortune. Many more Lebanese politicians and their allies will follow. All corruption will be met with sanctions.”
He added that the State Department contacted Bassil again ten days ago and asked him to publicly distance himself from Hezbollah.
Bassil, the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, who is at the center of government formation effort, tried to reason with the Americans: His alliance with Hezbollah could yield benefits that are otherwise impossible to achieve, arguing about the important role he played in facilitating the maritime borders talks between Israel and Lebanon.
But the Americans would have none of it. That was the last Bassil heard from them before sanctions were enacted.
On Friday, Bassil said on Twitter that he was not “scared” of the sanctions and had not been “tempted” by promises.
In September, the US blacklisted two ex-Lebanese government ministers, Hassan Khalil and Youssef Fenianos for providing material support for Hezbollah and engaging in government corruption.


Gaza imposes tighter virus restrictions, extends curfew

Updated 7 min 42 sec ago

Gaza imposes tighter virus restrictions, extends curfew

Gaza imposes tighter virus restrictions, extends curfew
  • Mosques, schools, universities and kindergartens will be closed from Saturday in the Gaza Strip, excluding high schools and nurseries
  • Medical and political sources warned last week of a spike in Covid-19 cases in the Gaza Strip

GAZA CITY: New measures to counter the spread of the novel coronavirus in the Gaza Strip were announced on Thursday by the interior ministry of Hamas, which rules the Palestinian enclave.
Mosques, schools, universities and kindergartens will be closed from Saturday in the Gaza Strip, excluding high schools and nurseries, the interior ministry said in a statement.
A night-time curfew was also set to start from Saturday, lasting from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 am, while a full lockdown will be imposed on Fridays and Saturdays from December 11 through to the end of the month.
Shops and other premises must close by 6:00 p.m. and people must be home by 6:30 pm, compared to 8:00 p.m. under the previous curfew rules.
Medical and political sources warned last week of a spike in Covid-19 cases in the Gaza Strip, saying the situation was “out of control.”
The enclave, a small, densely populated territory with two million inhabitants under an Israeli blockade, closed its borders early in the pandemic and only allowed a limited number of people to enter, requiring them to isolate for three weeks in quarantine centers.
Up until mid-August, authorities in Gaza had only recorded around 100 Covid-19 cases.
But in the past two weeks, containment of the virus has deteriorated in Gaza, with hundreds of new infections announced per day, resulting in a total of 23,023 cases and 122 deaths.
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar is among those who have recently been infected by the virus, the movement said Tuesday.