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Jamil Sayyed (center), a sitting member of Lebanon's Parliament, is one of three people sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury for corruption. Photo: Anwar Amro/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Treasury announced Thursday it has sanctioned two Lebanese businessmen and a member of the nation's Parliament for undermining the rule of law in Lebanon and contributing to the "breakdown of good governance."

Why it matters: Lebanon was without a government for more than a year after a deadly explosion in 2020 killed over 200 people and displaced roughly 250,000. President Biden has urged Lebanon's leaders to reform the country's economy and crack down on corruption amid continued turmoil.

Details: Businessmen Jihad al-Arab and Dany Khoury profited off relationships with powerful Lebanese politicians, the Treasury said.

  • Al-Arab's company won multimillion-dollar contracts in exchange for bribes to government officials, while Khoury's company acted with impunity despite failing to follow through on public contracts.
  • Jamil Sayyed, a sitting member of Lebanon's Parliament, sought to skirt domestic banking policies and regulations in 2021, according to the Treasury.
    • The agency said Sayyed also called on officials to shoot and kill protesters during a 2019 demonstration that demanded his resignation.

Driving the news: Al-Arab, Khoury and Sayyed's property and interests in the U.S. are now blocked and must be reported to the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

  • People in the U.S. are barred from facilitating transactions with them.

What they're saying: "While the Lebanese people face daily struggles to access basic public goods, including medicine, electricity, and food, during a historic and devastating economic crisis, members of the Lebanese political class and their cronies operate with impunity to enrich themselves and hide their wealth," the Treasury said in a release.

Worth noting: In September, Lebanese President Michel Aoun announced the formation of the new government, with billionaire businessman Najib Mikati serving as the country's prime minister.

Go deeper

Nov 17, 2021 - World

Bringing Syria back into the fold

AMMAN, Jordan — Egypt, Jordan and several other Arab countries are quietly lining up to tip the balance toward the return of Syria to the Arab League.

Why it matters: The regional body suspended Syria in 2011, and most countries in the region cut ties with Bashar al-Assad's regime. As Syria is brought back into the fold, the rush to benefit from the country's post-war reconstruction is already becoming apparent.

Updated 18 mins ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 40 mins ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.