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David Schenker , U.S. Assistant Secretary of State said the Lebanese government faces immense challenges as the result of years of corruption and the implications of the war in Syria, noting that sanctions could be imposed on Lebanese parties allied to Hezbollah and supporting the government of PM Hassan Diab.

“The Lebanese government faces great challenges including a health crisis as the result of coronavirus pandemic, a financial and economic crisis as a result of years of corruption, mismanagement and the consequences of the war in Syria,” said Schenker in an interview with France 24 late on Wednesday that addressed several Middle eastern issues in Libya, Iraq, Palestine, Israel and Lebanon

“Prime Minister Hassan Diab presented a (economic rescue) plan and we are waiting to see the extent of the government’s commitment to reforms and actually implementing them. Only then, we will assess our position to support Lebanon regarding its file with the International Monetary Fund.” he said

Schenker added that the United States could impose sanctions against figures in the political coalition supporting the government of Hassan Diab and allied with Hezbollah.

“Yes, it is possible, and we are examining this. They are allies of Hezbollah and we’re going to be looking at a set of sanctions. We hope to apply some of them soon,” he said.

In remarks he made to another media outlet, Schenker stressed that the deteriorating economic and financial situation in Lebanon is not due to U.S. sanctions, but to other factors that he believes have brought Lebanon to where it is. 

Political forces in Lebanon have renewed pressure on the Iranian-backed Hezbollah to reform or face the US imposition of the Caesar Act, which could prove catastrophic for the country.

Mouaz Mustafa, who is a member of the Caesar Act team, recently said that prominent political figures in Lebanon were likely to be targeted alongside Hezbollah because the goal of the sanctions was to reach all people who had any kind of agreements with the Syrian regime.

David Schenker
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