US imposes sanctions on Hezbollah, citing Syria role, Africa influence
The US has declared “sanctions” on four alleged “ambassadors” of the Lebanese Islamic resistance group Hezbollah, citing the movement’s role in pushing back foreign-backed insurgents in Syria as well as its rising influence in West Africa.
The US Treasury Department announced Tuesday that it was imposing what appear to be vague sanctions against the four Lebanese individuals whom it claims are “fundraising and recruiting for Hezbollah” in efforts to expand its influence in West Africa, as well as South America and Middle East, The Los Angeles Times reports Wednesday.
Citing US officials, the report states the four men were acting as Hezbollah “ambassadors” in Sierra Leone, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Gambia.
The daily further quotes US Treasury officials as underlining “the alarming reach of Hezbollah’s activities,” pointing to the Islamic movement’s “growing military role” in the recent triumph of the Syrian Army over foreign-sponsored militant gangs that have waged a destructive war on the country in largely US-led attempts to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
The mostly symbolic sanctions, according to the report, “grew out of an investigation of what Treasury said are Hezbollah’s expanding activities abroad, including in South America, the Middle East and Africa.”
The sanctions would supposedly “freeze any assets” the four men “may have in the United States and sever them from any contact with the US financial system.”
However, it is not even clear if and how much the Lebanese individuals, identified as Ali Ibrahim Watfa, Abbas Loutfe Jawaz, Ali Achmad Chehade and Hicham Nmer Khanafer, have under the control of American financial institutions.
The US government has in the past repeatedly “imposed” meaningless sanctions, in the form of freezing funds, against a number of Iranian individuals and officials that have absolutely no ties or holdings in the US or American financial institutions.
The development comes as the American government and some of its allies, including the Saudi Kingdom, have protested the supportive role of Hezbollah forces behind the Syrian Army to flush out mostly al-Qaeda-linked armed gangs that have terrorized the nation with massive weapons supplied to them through Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon by mostly Persian Gulf Arab kingdoms, with US and European blessings.