US, Gulf states sanction Hezbollah leaders
Gulf countries, joined by the United States, imposed on Wednesday further sanctions on Hezbollah leaders, proclaiming the Iran-backed Lebanese group a terrorist organisation and dismissing the distinction between the party's political and armed wings.
Additional US sanctions targeted Hezbollah's top officials, including its leader Hassan Nasrallah and his deputy Naim Qassem.
The measures were imposed jointly by Washington and its partners in the Terrorist Financing and Targeting Center (TFTC), which includes Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and United Arab Emirates, the US Treasury Department said.
The Iran-backed group is a major political party in Lebanon, and has emerged with one of the biggest parliamentary blocs after the country's elections earlier this month.
Washington also blacklisted members of the primary decision-making body of Hezbollah, the US treasury said.
"By targeting Hezbollah's Shura Council, our nations collectively rejected the false distinction between a so-called Political Wing and Hezbollahs global terrorist plotting," Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.
The US statement on Hezbollah's political wing was echoed by Saudi Arabia.
"Hezbollah is a global terrorist organisation," the kingdom's official news agency SPA said in a statement. "Its leaders do not distinguish between its military and political wings, and we reject the false distinction between the so-called 'Hezbollah political wing' and its military and terrorist activities."
The Gulf states targeted four of the movement's committees.
A number of those targeted by the TFTC had previously been blacklisted by the United States.
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Earlier on Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his Qatari counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, discussed Qatar's efforts to "counter terrorism financing", the State Department said.
Last year Nasrallah downplayed the implications of tougher US sanctions against his group.
"The American administration, with all available and possible means, will not be able to damage the strength of the resistance," Nasrallah said in a speech on 13 August 2017.