After Lebanese Government Formed, U.S. Warns Hizbullah Against Using State Coffers To Fund Terrorism
The United States Treasury’s Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing warned Iranian proxy Hizbullah against using its enhanced clout in the newly-formed Lebanese government to channel state funds to its military machine. The comments by Marshall Billingslea came as parties in Beirut broke nine months of political gridlock by agreeing to form a new cabinet in which Hizbullah and its allies have strengthened their representation. The arrangement effectively grants the terrorist group control over the Health Ministry which has one of the country’s largest budgets, with Washington concerned that Hizbullah will use the opportunity to provide subsidized health care and jobs to its supporters while siphoning off funds to help offset American sanctions. “If we see that Hizbullah exploits, and they will exploit whatever ministry they are given, to funnel money and other terrorist agendas, then we have significant problems with that,” Billingslea was quoted as saying during a two-day visit to Lebanon. While new Health Minister Jamil Jabbak is not an official member of Hizbullah, he is believed to be close to Hassan Nasrallah, the organization’s leader, and reportedly served as his personal doctor. Shiite Hizbullah made significant gains at the expense of Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s Sunni party in last May’s parliamentary elections, contributing to the delay in forming a government as the group demanded a larger role in the cabinet.