Lebanon’s Gebran Bassil downplays US sanctions

The leader of Lebanon’s largest Christian bloc, the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), Gebran Bassil, says he is not intimidated by the sanctions that the United States has imposed against him.

“Sanctions have not scared me, nor promises tempted me,” Bassil, who is the son-in-law of Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun, tweeted on Friday following the announcement of the sanctions.

“I do not turn against any Lebanese… and I do not save myself to let Lebanon perish,” he added, according to Reuters.

Earlier on Friday, the US Treasury Department blacklisted Bassil over accusations of corruption.

However, a senior US official said Bassil’s support for the Lebanese resistance movement of Hezbollah had been “every bit of the motivation” for the imposition of the sanctions.

The Free Patriotic Movement has a political alliance with Hezbollah.

Bassil has lauded Hezbollah as a pillar of Lebanon’s stability and unity, saying the alliance between his party and the resistance movement is vital to saving Lebanon and its national unity.

In September, Washington blacklisted two Lebanese ministers over alleged support for Hezbollah. The White House targeted former Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, from the Shia Amal Party, and former Transport Minister Youssef Fenianos, from the Christian Marada movement, with sanctions, freezing any assets they held in the United States and banning Americans from doing any financial transactions with them.

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