Obama extends Lebanon's "national emergency" status

Obama extends Lebanon's "national emergency" status
The US has extended a Bush-era executive order declaring Lebanon to be in a state of ''national emergency", and maintaining sanctions against those close to Hizballah and Assad's regime.
2 min read
30 July, 2015
Bush imposed sanctions on pro-Syrian and Hizballah figures in 2007 [AFP]
US President Barack Obama announced Wednesday the extension of Lebanon's national emergency status for another year.

This status was declared in August 2007 in an executive order signed by former US President George W Bush.

"Certain ongoing activities, such as continuing arms transfers to Hizballah that include increasingly sophisticated weapons systems, undermine Lebanese sovereignty, contribute to political and economic instability in the region and continue to constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States," said Obama in a statement released by the White House.

Obama said this threat justified the extension of the national emergency status put into effect by Executive Order 13441.
     Certain ongoing activities continue to constitute a threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States
- Obama, US president

The US established this status in 2007 because certain individuals were working "to undermine Lebanon's legitimate and democratically elected government or democratic institutions".

At the time, Bush said these parties were contributing to the deliberate breakdown of the rule of law in the country by, for example, inciting politically motivated violence. He said their aim was to "reassert Syrian control or contribute to Syrian interference in Lebanon".

The Bush administration also imposed sanctions against a number of Lebanese and Syrian figures seen to be contributing to this "threat". Obama's extension of the executive order keeps these sanctions in place.

In May, the US extended Syria's national emergency status and sanctions against the Assad regime, citing: "The regime's brutal war against the Syrian people, who have been calling for freedom and a representative government."

US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter criticised Wednesday what he called Iran's "harmful activities" in the Middle East, during a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"There are no limitations on what the department of defence can and will do to pursue our defence strategy in the Middle East," Carter said, suggesting the military option was still on the table despite the nuclear deal with Tehran.

Carter slammed Iran's military support for the Syrian regime and Hizballah.

Although the defence secretary seemed to be trying to appease Republican opponents of the nuclear agreement and the Israeli government, he defended the deal saying it prevents Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon.
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