Obama extends sanctions on Hezbollah supporters
July 26, 2012 Leave a comment
By Dena Weiss, TIP Fellow
Washington, July 26 – President Obama extended existing sanctions for another year against groups considered threats to Lebanon’s fragile stability, for the first time including a direct reference to Hezbollah and its supporters.
The extension, announced Wednesday in an official notice from the White House, formally declares a state of emergency and calls for “measures blocking the property of certain persons undermining the sovereignty of Lebanon or its democratic processes.”
The Executive Order was initially declared by President George W. Bush on Aug. 1, 2007, and has been renewed every year since its inception.
Though the original document released by President Bush outlines the actions and goods it wishes to block, no direct reference was made to a specific actor. President Obama’s renewal, however, specifically mentions the “continuing arms transfers to Hizballah (sic)” and the threats the group poses to Lebanese sovereignty, U.S. national security and foreign relations. Hezbollah receives training, weapons and money from Iran and Syria.
The ongoing violence in Lebanon reflects an internal divide, encouraged by the turmoil in Syria. Brought into the conflict primarily because of Lebanon’s proximity to Syria, Lebanese citizens are split between supporting the Syrian opposition and those loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, including the powerful Shiite Hezbollah.
The U.S. considers Hezbollah a terrorist group, a classification bolstered by a recent report from the Pentagon that the suicide bombing killing Israeli tourists in Bulgaria last week included “some of the hallmarks of Hezbollah.”
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is adamant that Hezbollah must not be allowed to obtain access to Syria’s chemical or other advanced weapons. The continued U.S. sanctions represent efforts by the international community to address Hezbollah’s military ambitions.