​US, Gulf Arab states place sanctions on Hezbollah leadership
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​US, Gulf Arab states place sanctions on Hezbollah leadership

Nasrallah and other senior members listed in injuction freezing vulnerable assets and blocking access to global financial networks

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah speaks on a screen via a video link during a ceremony to mark the second anniversary of the death of Hezbollah top commander, Mustafa Badreddine, who was killed in an explosion in Damascus, in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon, Lebanon, on May 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)
Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah speaks on a screen via a video link during a ceremony to mark the second anniversary of the death of Hezbollah top commander, Mustafa Badreddine, who was killed in an explosion in Damascus, in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Lebanon, Lebanon, on May 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

WASHINGTON — The United States and six Gulf Arab states announced sanctions Wednesday on the leadership of Hezbollah, as Washington seeks to step up economic pressure on Iran and its allies in the region.

The US and Saudi-led Terrorist Financing and Targeting Center said the sanctions were aimed at Hezbollah’s Shura Council, the powerful Lebanese terrorist group’s decision-making council, led by the Shiite group’s secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah.

Nasrallah, Hezbollah Deputy Secretary General Naim Qasim, and three other Shura Council members were listed under the joint sanctions, which aim at freezing vulnerable assets of those named and blocking their access to global financial networks.

At the same time, the six Gulf members of the TFTC — Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates — declared sanctions on another nine individuals and firms part of or linked to Hezbollah that were already blacklisted by the US Treasury.

Supporters of Lebanon’s Hezbollah terror movement parade with the party’s flags and portraits of its leader Hassan Nasrallah through the streets of Baalbeck, in the eastern Bekaa valley, near the border with Syria, on general election day, May 6, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Haitham EL-TABEI)

It was the second time the year-old TFTC came together to announce sanctions on groups they call threats to regional peace.

Last October, the group announced joint sanctions on top Islamic State and Al-Qaeda figures in Yemen.

“The TFTC again demonstrated its great value to international security by disrupting Iran and Hezbollah’s destabilizing influence in the region,” said US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in a statement.

“By targeting Hezbollah’s Shura Council, our nations collectively rejected the false distinction between a so-called ‘Political Wing’ and Hezbollah’s global terrorist plotting,” Mnuchin added.

The move came 10 days after Hezbollah gave a strong showing in Lebanon’s elections, garnering enough seats in parliament to block any attempt by its political foes to make it disarm its militia, which rivals the Lebanese army in size and firepower.

The announcement followed two US moves in the past week to put pressure on Iran’s financial networks, including sanctions announced Tuesday that aimed at an alleged financial pipeline that moved “hundreds of millions of dollars” from Iran’s central bank through an Iraqi bank to Hezbollah.

Coming after the Trump administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal on May 8, the US Treasury said Wednesdays actions are part of a efforts to go after “the totality of Iran’s malign activities and regionally destabilizing behavior, including that of Hezbollah.”

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