Hezbollah condemns U.S. sanctions on former Lebanese FM Bassil

Hezbollah condemned on Friday the U.S. sanctions against former Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil over corruption allegations and his close ties with Hezbollah, the National News Agency reported.

“This is a pure political decision and a blatant interference in the internal affairs of Lebanon,” said Hezbollah, a major Shiite political party in Lebanon, in a statement.

“America is using its domestic laws, including anti-terrorism and anti-corruption laws, to extend its hegemony and influence over the world,” it added.

Earlier in the day, the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury imposed sanctions on Bassil, also the leader of Lebanon’s Free Patriotic Movement, for his role in corruption in Lebanon, embezzlement of public funds, obstructing reforms and establishing ties with Hezbollah.

“The systemic corruption in Lebanon’s political system exemplified by Bassil has helped to erode the foundation of an effective government that serves the Lebanese people,” Steven T. Mnuchin, secretary of the U.S. Treasury, was quoted as saying by a statement released by his Department.

In response, Bassil said the sanctions imposed by the United States did not scare him, noting he had not been “tempted by promises.”

“I do not turn against any Lebanese … and I do not save myself to let Lebanon perish,” he said in a Twitter post following the announcement.