US President Donald Trump has signed legislation imposing new sanctions against Hezbollah.
Speaking yesterday at a White House event marking the 35th anniversary of the Hezbollah attack on a US Marine barracks in Lebanon that killed 241 US servicemen in 1983, Trump said: “No terrorist group other than al-Qaeda has more American blood on its hands.” The legislation, known as the Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Amendments Act, expands the list of those who can be sanctioned for doing business with Hezbollah.
Trump said his administration has introduced extensive new sanctions on Hezbollah and added: “We will target, disrupt and dismantle their operational and financing efforts, of which they have plenty … and we will never forget what they did to our Marines in Beirut.”
Trump also spoke about Iran’s “instrumental” role funding Hezbollah, and cited Iran’s support for international terrorist groups as a reason for reimposing sanctions on them after he pulled out of the 2015 nuclear accord. In June 2018 the US Treasury under-secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Sigal Mandelker, said Iran grants Hezbollah more than $700m every year.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the new sanctions “will further isolate Hezbollah from the international financial system and reduce its funding. These sanctions will target foreign persons and government agencies that knowingly assist or support Hezbollah, and Hezbollah-affiliated networks that engage in drug trafficking or other transnational crime”.
Trump also spoke about tougher actions against Iran after oil and gas sanctions are reimposed on 5 November. He said renewed US sanctions have forced Iran to alter its long-term strategy of building a land corridor to the Mediterranean. “Their money’s collapsed. Their lives are a lot different, and they’re not looking so much for the Mediterranean … now they want to survive. It’s a whole different deal,” he said.
The UK Government is soon expected to ban the political wing of Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation. The UK banned Hezbollah’s military wing in 2008 and the EU banned the military wing in 2012. Hezbollah in its entirety is a banned terrorist group in the US, Canada, Israel and the Arab League.