Anti-Hizbollah Banking Sanctions Tear At Lebanon’s Political Fabric

Lebanon says it will comply with a US law banning banking transactions with Hizbollah. But with Hizbollah part of the government, enforcement will be tricky.

The US Congress last December passed a law imposing sanctions on banks engaged in business with the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shia paramilitary movement Hizbollah. The Lebanese government promptly said that, with international banking a key pillar of the economy, it will fully comply with the ‘Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015.’

But there’s a key problem: Hizbollah is part of the government of the deeply divided country. The Shia community from where it draws its support is thought by most estimates to be the most numerous of Lebanon’s myriad sects.

Central Bank of Lebanon (CBL) Governor Riad Salamah says Lebanese banks must comply with the US law which has “to be implemented worldwide and in Lebanon.” Failure to do so risks international isolation of the Lebanese banking sector, he warns, adding that Lebanon is committed to combatting money laundering and terrorism financing.


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