The Trump administration is preparing to impose anti-corruption sanctions against prominent Lebanese politicians and businessmen in a bid to weaken Hezbollah’s influence in the wake of the explosion of last week in the port of Beirut, according to U.S. officials and others familiar with the plans.
The explosion, which killed at least 160 people and injured thousands more, has accelerated efforts in Washington to blacklist Lebanese leaders aligned with Hezbollah, the dominant political and military force in the country, according to these people.
US officials see an opportunity to drive a wedge between Hezbollah and its allies as part of a larger effort to contain the Shiite force backed by Tehran. Hezbollah has been part of the Lebanese coalition governments for more than a decade and poses the region’s most powerful threat to Israel, which has bombed the group’s forces in Syria and Lebanon to prevent it from accumulating advanced missiles .
President Trump has used sanctions as a central tool in his “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran. Now, some in his administration want the White House to turn the screws on Lebanon.
“I don’t see how you can react to this kind of event with anything other than ‘maximum pressure’,” one US official said.