Hezbollah

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Hezbollah makes gains as Lebanon forms new government

Lebanese premier-designate Saad Hariri speaks to the press in front of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon after the presentation of the closings arguments in the trial of four Hezbollah suspects
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in front of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon on Sept. 10, 2018, in The Hague. Photo: Bas Czerwinski/AFP via Getty Images

A 9-month political deadlock over the formation of Lebanon's new government has ended, resulting in a Cabinet in which Iran-backed Hezbollah has greater influence. The announced power-sharing agreement is unsurprising given Hezbollah’s strong electoral performance last May, when the predominantly Shiite organization and its allies seized the parliamentary majority from a loose coalition favored by the U.S. and led by returning Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

The big picture: While U.S. allies in Lebanon were able to impede Hezbollah’s ascendency through protracted negotiations, Hezbollah and its allies now control two-thirds of all key government ministries, with the militant group making further inroads into non-Shiite communities. Hezbollah is firmly entrenched in the Lebanese body politic and has grown into a regionwide fighting force on behalf of Iran, undercutting U.S. efforts to roll back Iranian influence.

U.S. further sanctions Hezbollah in retaliation against Iran

President Donald Trump.
Photo: Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

The U.S. joined six other countries on Wednesday in imposing additional sanctions against the senior leadership of Iranian-backed Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah and Naim Qassem.

The big picture: Per Reuters, this "was the third round of sanctions announced...since the United States pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal." Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that by targeting Hezbollah's leadership, "our nations collectively rejected the false distinction between a so-called ‘Political Wing’ and Hizballah’s global terrorist plotting."

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