Press Statement by Michael R. Pompeo, Secretary of State
For too long, Lebanon’s political leaders have ignored their responsibility to address the needs of their people and instead built a political system that serves their private interests. The August 4 explosion at the Beirut port is the most recent and tragic demonstration of Lebanon’s dysfunctional political system, which has also enabled a terrorist group to hold the country’s governance hostage to its own agenda. The United States supports the Lebanese people’s call for reform, and we will use all available authorities to promote accountability for Lebanese leaders who have failed their people.
Today, the United States is designating two former Lebanese ministers, Yusuf Finyanus and Ali Hassan Khalil, pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 as amended for providing material support to Hizballah, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization and Specially Designated Global Terrorist. While holding positions in previous Lebanese cabinets, Finyanus and Khalil directed political and economic favors to Hizballah, including ensuring Hizballah-owned companies won government contracts worth millions of dollars and moving money from government ministries to Hizballah-associated institutions.
Today’s designations demonstrate that Lebanese politicians who have provided a false veneer of political legitimacy to Hizballah or abused their positions to direct public funds to the terrorist group are as responsible for its entrenched influence as Hizballah’s own members or the corrupt businessmen and money launderers that have helped fund the group for decades.
Hizballah depends on Lebanon’s corrupt political system for survival. Anyone helping to advance Hizballah’s political or economic interests is further eroding what remains of effective governance and facilitating financing for terrorism. The Lebanese people deserve better, and the United States will continue to support their calls for an end to corruption and political stagnation.