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Biden's extension national emergency for Lebanon draws outrage

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A demonstrator holds the Lebanese flag as people block roads and burn tires during a protest against the worsening economic crisis in Beirut, Lebanon, on November 29, 2021. (Photo by Anadolu news agency)

President Joe Biden has extended the so-called US National Emergency with respect to Lebanon under the pretext of continuing activities that threaten the national security and foreign policy of the United States. 

“It is necessary to continue the national emergency declared” in 2007, Biden said in a message to the US Congress on Thursday, which drew condemnations from Lebanese authorities as well as officials from the Arab country’s allies like Iran.

Without mentioning the role of his government in creating instability in Lebanon, the US president claimed that Iran’s support for Hezbollah resistance movement "serve(s) to undermine Lebanese sovereignty, contribute(s) to political and economic instability in the region, and continue(s) to constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”

Biden’s message comes as the Congress discusses a resolution urging the European Union to designate Hezbollah in its entirety as a terrorist organization.

The resolution, which has been presented to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, calls on the EU to increase cross-border cooperation between European Union members and adopt tougher measures against Hezbollah, issuing arrest warrants against members and active supporters of the Lebanese resistance movement, freezing its assets in Europe, and prohibiting fundraising activities in support of the group.

US Representative Ted Deutch, who is the sponsor of the resolution, said that he sees no difference between the political and military wings of Hezbollah.

The national emergency with respect to Lebanon was first issued in August 2007 by then-President George W. Bush and has been renewed annually.

The decree gives the US president the power to seize Lebanese property and sanction the Lebanese authorities.

Iranian official: US responsible for worsening situation in Lebanon

Meanwhile, an assistant to the Iranian foreign minister has blasted Biden’s latest move, saying Washington is responsible for worsening situation in the Arab country.

“The US support for the apartheid Zionist regime and its intervention in the [internal affairs] of regional states have worsened the situation in those countries, including Lebanon,” Mohammad Sadiq Fazli, who is also the Director General of West Asia and North Africa Department at the Iranian Foreign Ministry, wrote in a post published on his Twitter page.

“How could the White House's statement help Lebanon?” Fazli asked, calling on US officials to stop supporting Israeli acts of aggression and looting Lebanon's land and maritime reserves.

“We (Iran) will stand with the honorable and resilient people of Lebanon against bullying,” said the Iranian deputy foreign minister.

Earlier this year, a high-ranking Hezbollah official held the United States primarily responsible for the creation and continuation of crises in the Middle East region and around the world.

“The US is behind the tragedies and instability in the region. Over the past eighty years, Washington has been creating conflicts, waging wars and backing terrorism worldwide,” Vice President of the Executive Council of Hezbollah Sheikh Ali Damoush said at a ceremony in the Lebanese capital city of Beirut on March 26.

He also blamed the United States for the Russo-Ukrainian crisis. American officials, Sheikh Damoush added, ignited the geopolitical conflict and worked recklessly to drag the Kiev government in it.

Lebanon has been mired in a deep economic and financial crisis since late 2019. The crisis is the gravest threat to the country’s stability since the 15-year civil war ended in 1990.

The economic and financial crisis is mostly linked to the sanctions that the United States and its allies have imposed on Lebanon as well as foreign intervention in the Arab nation’s domestic affairs.

Compounding the woes, Saudi Arabia has imposed its own sanctions, including banning its citizens from traveling to Lebanon where Riyadh-backed elements have been jockeying for positions.

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