The US said it was considering sanctions on top Lebanese officials, allegedly for their obstruction of electing a new president in the country, a top State Department official said Wednesday.
During a Senate committee hearing on the Middle East, the top US diplomat for the region said the US was considering the possibility of sanctions.
Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf said Washington was working with regional and European partners to push the Lebanese parliament to do its job. “It’s a collective effort,” Leaf said.
Meanwhile, the top two US House Foreign Affairs Committee lawmakers urged the Biden administration to sanction Lebanese individuals for corruption and to “make clear to Lebanon’s political class that the status quo is not acceptable.”
Since last October, Lebanon has had no president and a fully functioning government. Hezbollah and the Amal Movement are backing Sleiman Frangieh, while the other camp the Lebanese Forces and the Free Patriotic Movement, have reportedly agreed to endorse Jihad Azour.
Separately, the members of Congress slammed Lebanon’s central bank governor, Riad Salameh, as well as those responsible for the catastrophic Beirut Port blast in 2020.
Salameh has an Interpol arrest warrant out for him, and there are charges against him from Germany and France over alleged corruption.
“We also call on the Administration to continue pressing for full accountability for the August 2020 Beirut Port Blast and support independent, international investigatory efforts into egregious fraud and malfeasance by the Governor of Lebanon’s Central Bank,” Congressmen Mike McCaul and Gregory Meeks said in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “We must not allow Lebanon to be held hostage by those looking to advance their own selfish interests.”