The US supports efforts to ban Hezbollah from controlling Lebanon
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US position’s on the new Lebanese government ranges from congratulating President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Saad Hariri on the formation, to Washington’s concern about the Ministry of Health being assigned to Hezbollah.
Last month, US Under Secretary of State David Hale held talks with senior Lebanese officials and independent figures, and parliamentary and ministerial sources revealed that Hale did not report a US “veto” on giving the Ministry of Health to Hezbollah, as much as he expressed his dissatisfaction with the assignment.
Hale did not provide any negative indication to Washington’s unwillingness to deal with a government where Hezbollah is represented, sources said, adding that the official was assertive in his support to Lebanon’s stability and helping the country implement Resolution 1701.
The Under Secretary strongly criticized the party’s role in destabilizing Lebanon and the region, as it implements the policy dictated by Iran.
Sources indicated that Washington was already aware that Hezbollah would be represented in the government, but supports efforts to prevent it from taking control over Lebanon. This can be established if the cabinet unconditionally joins international efforts to combat terrorism financing and money laundering.
Assistant Secretary of US Treasury for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes Marshall Billingslea was in Lebanon last week where he visited the President, Prime Minister, Speaker, and Governor of Central Bank (BDL), as well as Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, and Association of Banks.
The talks dealt with various issues including strict monitoring of Hezbollah financial assets, increasing security services’ readiness to prevent smuggling, especially at Rafic Hariri International Airport, as well as the smuggling routes on the border areas between Lebanon and Syria.
The official discussed providing protection to the Lebanese economy, noting that it’s the first time a US envoy addresses the economic situation.
Sources also indicated that Billingslea wanted to make sure that Hezbollah’s hospitals and health institutions will not benefit from the Health Ministry’s resources by the Ministry of Health.
Newly-assigned Health Minister Jamil Jabak repeatedly confirmed that he doesn’t belong to Hezbollah, although, notably, he is the brother-in-law of Hezbollah MP Ali al-Meqdad.
He confirmed that the government must take the necessary measures to prevent the Ministry of Health from importing medicines from Iran.
So this time, the Assistant Secretary spoke more strongly as he defined the anti-terrorism and money laundering mechanism to destabilize the region.
Washington, according to the sources, will not impose any ban on Lebanon and will be present not only through the US ambassador in Beirut but also through delegations to Lebanon.
The sources confirmed that Washington will continue to support Lebanon because its absence will allow the “axis of resistance” to take political control over the country.
They added that US readiness to create a power in the region facing Iran will also be translated through tangible measures such as activating Cedre Conference to help Lebanon recover from its economic and social crises. Washington will also carefully monitor some forces in the government in order to achieve the required political balance that will ensure true participation of all parties.
The sources concluded that parties should not be involved with the “axis of resistance” given that the US could take measures that might include parties of other Lebanese components.