US, Qatar, Gulf nations join to bolster Hezbollah sanctions

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (May 16, 2018) — Qatar and its adversaries in the Persian Gulf crisis have finally agreed to do something together: join the U.S. in placing terror sanctions on the Iranian ally Hezbollah terrorist group.

The U.S. Treasury Department said Wednesday that Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf nations are slapping sanctions on Hezbollah's senior leadership. The sanctions are being coordinated by a U.S.-Gulf partnership called the Terrorist Financing and Targeting Center.

The group was formed last May. Shortly thereafter, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut off ties to Qatar and moved to isolate it economically. The spat has remained in a stalemate despite intermittent attempts by the U.S. to mediate or to hasten a resolution.

Most of the Hezbollah terrorist officials were already under heavy U.S. sanctions, so the actions will have limited practical implication in the United States. The Trump administration has been targeting Lebanese Hezbollah to increase pressure on its patron, Iran, following President Donald Trump's withdrawal last week from the Iran nuclear deal.

The sanctions come the same day that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke by phone with Qatar's foreign minister and urged a quick end to the Gulf dispute. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Pompeo emphasized the Trump administration's commitment to working with all the Gulf nations to ensure sanctions are "fully enforced" and prevent the nations' financial systems from being exploited by terrorists.

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