Biden’s Lebanon extension national emergency sparks outrage
President Joe Biden has extended the so-called US national emergency over Lebanon under the guise of continued activities that threaten US national security and foreign policy.
“There is a need to continue the national emergency declared” in 2007, Biden said in a message to the US Congress on Thursday, which has drawn condemnation from Lebanese authorities as well as officials from the Arab country’s allies like Iran.
Without mentioning his government’s role in creating instability in Lebanon, the US president asserted that Iran’s support for the Hezbollah resistance movement “serves to undermine Lebanese sovereignty, contributes to political instability and economy in the region and continues(s) to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.
Biden’s message comes as Congress discusses a resolution urging the European Union to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization.
The resolution, which was presented to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, calls on the EU to increase cross-border cooperation between members of the European Union and to adopt tougher measures against Hezbollah, by issuing warrants of arrest against members and active supporters of the Lebanese resistance movement, freezing its assets in Europe and banning fundraising activities for the group.
US Representative Ted Deutch, who is the sponsor of the resolution, said he saw no difference between Hezbollah’s political and military wings.
The national emergency over Lebanon was first issued in August 2007 by then-President George W. Bush and has been renewed annually.
The executive order gives the US president the power to seize Lebanese assets and sanction Lebanese authorities.
Iranian official: the United States is responsible for the deterioration of the situation in Lebanon
Meanwhile, an aide to Iran’s deputy foreign minister blasted Biden’s latest move, saying Washington was responsible for the worsening situation in the Arab country.
“American support for the apartheid Zionist regime and its intervention in the [internal affairs] states in the region have worsened the situation in those countries, including Lebanon,” wrote Mohammad Sadiq Fazli, who is also the director general of the West Asia and North Africa department at Iran’s foreign ministry, in a statement. message posted on his Twitter page.
“How could the White House statement help Lebanon? Fazli asked, calling on US officials to stop supporting Israeli acts of aggression and the looting of Lebanon’s land and sea reserves.
“We (Iran) will stand with the honorable and resilient people of Lebanon against intimidation,” the Iranian deputy foreign minister said.
Earlier this year, a senior Hezbollah official held the United States primarily responsible for creating and sustaining crises in the Middle East region and around the world.
“The United States is the source of tragedy and instability in the region. For the past eighty years, Washington has created conflicts, waged wars and supported terrorism around the world,” Hezbollah Executive Council Vice Chairman Sheikh Ali Damoush said at a ceremony in Beirut, the Lebanese capital, on March 26.
He also blamed the United States for the Russian-Ukrainian crisis. US officials, Sheikh Damoush added, sparked the geopolitical conflict and worked tirelessly to drag the Kyiv government into it.
Lebanon has been plunged into a deep economic and financial crisis since late 2019. The crisis is the most serious threat to the country’s stability since the end of the 15-year civil war in 1990.
The economic and financial crisis is mainly linked to the sanctions that the United States and its allies have imposed on Lebanon as well as foreign interference in the internal affairs of the Arab nation.
To compound the woes, Saudi Arabia has imposed its own sanctions, including banning its citizens from traveling to Lebanon where Riyadh-backed elements are vying for posts.