US, Gulf Arab states place sanctions on Hezbollah leadership

Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zari arrives before a ministerial meeting of EU  E3 with Iran at the European Union headquarters in Brussels

The day before, the US Treasury already sanctioned the head of Iran's central bank and Iraq-based Al-Bilad Islamic Bank over alleged ties to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the Hezbollah movement, which Washington considers to be a terrorist group.

The sanctions target Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah, his deputy Naim Qassem and other figures and entities.

The US Treasury Department said four other individuals were also sanctioned, as was the group ISIS in the Greater Sahara.

"By targeting Hezbollah's Shura Council, our nations collectively rejected the false distinction between a so-called "Political Wing" and Hezbollah's global terrorist plotting", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

The action was undertaken jointly with members of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC): Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Oman.

Specifically, OFAC, together with Gulf partners, designated Hasan Nasrallah, the Secretary General of Hezbollah.

The US government has been expanding sanctions targeting Iranian firms and individuals.


In particular, the black list includes the leader of "Hezbollah" Hassan Nasrallah and Qassem, and several members of the Executive Committee of the group.

Washington's claims against Hezbollah come while the movement has been playing a significant role in the Syrian army's fight against Takfiri terror groups, including Daesh and al-Nusra Front, thus preventing the spillover of the militancy gripping neighboring Syria into Lebanon.

The announcement followed two U.S. moves in the past week to put pressure on Iran's financial networks, including sanctions announced Tuesday that aimed at an alleged financial pipeline that moved "hundreds of millions of dollars" from Iran's central bank through an Iraqi bank to Hezbollah.

US President Donald Trump announced on May 8 that Washington was walking away from the nuclear deal and said he would reinstate nuclear sanctions on Iran and impose "the highest level" of economic bans on the Islamic Republic.

The U.S. move comes just over a week after Hezbollah and its political allies looked set to emerge as the most powerful alliance in Lebanon's next parliament.

Hezbollah, which was founded after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and is classified as a terrorist organization by the US, has faced off with Israel across the decades, including in a month-long war in 2006.

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