Beirut: The leader of Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah militant group called on the Lebanese state on Friday to stand up for citizens being slapped with sanctions by the United States, saying they are harming people.
Speaking in a televised address on Friday, Hassan Nasrallah said the new government, which Prime Minister Sa’d Hariri was appointed to form a day earlier, cannot “turn its back” on those individuals.
The US, which considers Hezbollah to be a terrorist organisation, has been imposing sanctions on the group for decades. The US and its Gulf Arab allies however issued a new wave of sanctions this month that targeted the group’s top leadership, including Nasrallah, as well as businessmen and companies that Washington says are funding the group.
Nasrallah also slammed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who on Thursday said the results of the Lebanese parliament election were not what the US would have hoped for, or what “most of the Lebanese people would have hoped either.”
“What the Lebanese people want is none of your business,” Nasrallah said. The group, along with its political allies, scored significant gains in the May 6 elections.
Nasrallah spoke Friday marking the anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from south Lebanon 18 years ago, following a war of attrition waged by the group that eventually led to an Israeli pullout. The day is marked as “Liberation Day” in Lebanon, a national holiday.
The Hezbollah leader said the US sanctions on Hezbollah members would not affect the formation of a new government. Hariri, a western-backed politician, is hoping for a quick formation of a new cabinet, likely to be a re-creation of the outgoing national unity government that incorporates members of the group.