Thursday, October 31, 2019

McConnell: ‘The United States Should Stand With These Protestors’

October 31, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding global protests:

"I've spoken at length in recent weeks about the protests in Hong Kong and the situation in Syria. I'd like to close today by recognizing other important developments in the Middle East that regrettably haven't received much attention.

"Massive protests are currently underway in Lebanon and Iraq. Millions have taken to the streets to demand more responsive, more transparent, and less sectarian governance, and an end to rampant corruption.

"By all accounts, these protests are cross-sectarian, directed at an entire class of political leaders who have behaved undemocratically and unethically.

"The protests are also directed at Iran. The Islamic Republic has long sought, through proxies like Hizballah and Iraqi militias, to undermine the sovereignty of Lebanon and Iraq. Now even Shiite communities that have typically been heavily influenced by Iran are demanding politicians that represent their interests instead of Tehran's interests.

"Unsurprisingly, the Iranian regime is reportedly involved in violently suppressing peaceful protests in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and of course Iran itself. The mullahs are showing the same fear as the Chinese Communist Party. They're afraid of citizens demanding reform and speaking up for basic freedoms.

"The United States should stand with these protestors.

"The administration should use the tools at its disposal to expose corruption and foreign interference in these nations, impose consequences for violent crackdowns on peaceful protests, and work with the Lebanese and Iraqi leaders who are committed to doing right by their people."


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Terrorist Financing Targeting Center Jointly Designates Network of Corporations, Banks, and Individuals Supporting IRGC and Hizballah

Coordinated action represents largest-ever tranche of targets designated by the United States and Gulf countries as part of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center created under President Trump's leadership

RIYADH – Today, the seven member nations of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC) jointly designated 25 targets affiliated with the Iranian regime's terror-support networks in the region.  This is the TFTC's largest joint designation to date, and is focused on entities supporting Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Iran's regional proxy, Hizballah.  Several of the businesses targeted in this action are providing financial support to the Basij Resistance Force (Basij), a paramilitary force subordinate to the IRGC that have long been used as shock troops by the regime to oppress domestic opposition with brutal displays of violence, while also recruiting, training and deploying fighters to fight in IRGC-fueled conflicts across the region.

"The TFTC's action coincides with my trip to the Middle East, where I am meeting with my counterparts across the region to bolster the fight against terrorist financing," said Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin.  "TFTC was created under the leadership of President Trump on May 21, 2017 during his historic trip to Saudi Arabia.  It is a bold effort to expand and strengthen the cooperation amongst seven countries — Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the United States — to counter the financing of terrorism. The TFTC coordinates disruptive actions, shares financial intelligence information, and builds member state capacity to target activities posing national security threats to TFTC members."

"The TFTC's coordinated disruption of the financial networks used by the Iranian regime to fund terrorism is a powerful demonstration of Gulf unity.  This action demonstrates the unified position of the Gulf nations and the United States that Iran will not be allowed to escalate its malign activity in the region," said Secretary Mnuchin.  "We are proud to join forces with our TFTC partners to expose and condemn the Iranian regime's gross and repeated violations of international norms, from attacking critical oil infrastructure in Saudi Arabia to fomenting strife in neighboring countries through regional proxies such as Hizballah.  This coordinated action is a concrete step towards denying the Iranian regime the ability to undermine the stability of the region."

Twenty-one of these targets comprised a vast network of businesses providing financial support to the Basij Resistance Force (Basij). The Iran-based network Bonyad Taavon Basij, translated as the "Basij Cooperative Foundation," employs shell companies and other measures to mask Basij ownership and control over a variety of multibillion-dollar business interests in Iran's automotive, mining, metals, and banking industries, many of which have significant international dealings across the Middle East and Europe.  OFAC previously designated these entities on October 16, 2018 as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.  Additional details on these targets, including their identifying information, is available on Treasury's website.

Four of the targets designated by the TFTC today were Hizballah-affiliated individuals who lead and coordinate the group's operational, intelligence, and financial activities in Iraq.  These designations again highlight the degree to which Hizballah operates as a clandestine, terrorist arm of the Iranian regime by smuggling oil for Iran, raising funds for Hizballah, and sending fighters to Syria for the IRGC-Qods Force on behalf of Qasem Soleimani.  OFAC previously designated the four individuals, Shibl Muhsin 'Ubayd Al-Zaydi, Yusuf Hashim, Adnan Hussein Kawtharani, and Muhammad 'Abd-Al-Hadi Farhat, on November 13, 2018 as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.  Additional details on these targets, including their identifying information, is available on Treasury's website.



Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Political Situation in Lebanon

OCTOBER 29, 2019

In light of Prime Minister Hariri's resignation, the United States calls on Lebanon's political leaders to urgently facilitate the formation of a new government that can build a stable, prosperous, and secure Lebanon that is responsive to the needs of its citizens.

The peaceful demonstrations and expressions of national unity over the last 13 days have sent a clear message.  The Lebanese people want an efficient and effective government, economic reform, and an end to endemic corruption.  Any violence or provocative actions must stop, and we call upon Lebanon's army and security services to continue to ensure the rights and safety of the protesters.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

36th Anniversary of the Beirut Barracks Bombings

OCTOBER 23, 2019
Thirty-six years ago today two Iranian-backed Hizballah suicide bombers drove trucks into buildings housing U.S. and French peacekeepers from the Multinational Force in Lebanon at Beirut International Airport. We grieve for those 220 U.S. Marines, 18 sailors, and three soldiers murdered that day. Today, we remember their sacrifice and the tremendous loss suffered by their families, friends, and partners.

Our outrage over this despicable act of terrorism perpetrated on those patriotic men and women remains as deep as ever. As President Reagan said from the White House lawn back in 1983, "These deeds make so evident the bestial nature of those who would assume power if they could have their way and drive us out of that area." We remain more determined than ever to push back on those who threaten the sovereignty, stability, and prosperity of this vital region.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Treasury Launches the Counter-Hizballah International Partnership (CHIP) to Thwart Illicit Financial Activity

October 18, 2019
Washington—This week the Treasury Department convened the first meeting of the Counter-Hizballah International Partnership (CHIP) to build multilateral cooperation for targeting Hizballah's global financial networks. Over 30 countries representing the Middle East, the Western Hemisphere, Europe, Asia, and Africa participated in this event, which was held on the sidelines of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund Fall Meetings.

"Hizballah leverages a network of financiers and supporters around the world to fund its violent agenda.  The CHIP unites the international community in an aggressive campaign to confront Hizballah's evolving schemes to better protect the international financial system from exploitation," said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. "The CHIP is an important initiative to share information and build capacity among our partners to more effectively leverage all available financial tools against Hizballah."

At the meeting, the United States condemned Hizballah's abuse of the international financial system and identified impact-oriented steps countries should take to stem this abuse, including  information sharing information among financial intelligence units, strengthening terrorism finance risk assessments, developing targeted financial sanctions regimes, and prosecuting terrorists and their financial facilitators. Participating countries noted the importance of raising Hizballah in international fora to build momentum and ensure coordination of efforts. The next steps for meeting participants will be to send technical experts to the Law Enforcement Coordination Group (LECG), which will next convene December 17-18 in The Hague, Netherlands.


Friday, October 11, 2019

President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate and Appoint Individuals to Key Administration Posts

Issued on: October 11, 2019
Dorothy Shea of North Carolina, to be Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Lebanese Republic.
Dorothy Shea, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Mission of the United States Embassy in Cairo, Egypt. Previously, she had served as Deputy Principal Officer at the United States Consulate General in Jerusalem, as Director of the Office of Assistance for Asia and the Near East in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, and as a Pearson Fellow with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Ms. Shea was also the Political/Economic Counselor at the United States Embassy in Tunis, Tunisia, a Political Officer at the United States Embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, a Director for Democracy and Human Rights at the National Security Council, and a Special Assistant to the Special Envoy for War Crimes Issues in the Department of State. Ms. Shea earned a B.A. from the University of Virginia, M.S. from Georgetown University, and M.S. from the National War College. She speaks French and Arabic.