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White House Asks Tehran to Stop Funding Hezbollah | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Hezbollah General Secretary Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters through a giant screen during a rally commemorating the annual Hezbollah Martyrs’ Leader Day in Beirut’s southern suburbs, Lebanon February 16, 2016. REUTERS/Aziz Taher/Files

Washington, London – The White House urged Iran to stop giving financial support to the so-called Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, warning of such continued support.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz told reporters that the White House asked all those who fund the so-called Hezbollah to stop doing so.

“We know that Iran supports terrorism,” he added “and we know that Iran supports Hezbollah. And that is why we’ve issued the most serious and most severe sanctions ever on Iran for doing so. So it’s important for them to recognize their own behavior in enabling this.”

Schultz explained that: “We’ve had a conversation recently about Iran’s concerns about access to international markets.”

White House Spokesperson went on to say: “Financial actors are looking into Iran’s behavior and whether Iran plans on continuing funding terrorism and on supplying resources to the so-called Hezbollah that is going to have impact.”

Schultz warned Iran that its continuous support to so-called Hezbollah won’t be in its interest.

On Friday, Hezbollah’s leader Nasrallah mocked the fresh U.S. sanctions saying that the so-called Hezbollah won’t be affected by the sanctions because of its secure, direct income from Iran and not through Lebanese banks.

“We are open about the fact that Hezbollah’s budget, income, expenses, weapons and rockets, are from the Islamic Republic of Iran,” Nasrallah said, adding that there are no bank investments involved.

In December, the Congress imposed sanctions on all banks that deal with the so-called Hezbollah. Lebanese Central Bank announced all Lebanese banks and financial institutions should comply to this against the Lebanese Shiite group. Nasrallah added: “As long as Iran has money, we have money and no law can stop us from that.”

Brett McGurk, President Obama’s special envoy in the fight against ISIS, said that there has been no “significant” change in Iran’s behavior in Syria following the international nuclear deal in July.

Speaking before the Senate Committee, McGurk added: “I have not seen a significant change in Iranian behavior…They’re primarily working to prop up the Assad regime.”

McGurk said the Islamic Republic is supporting some active Shiite militia groups in Iraq that are operating outside of the central government’s legal authority— an act that is “threatening Iraq’s own sovereignty.”

Public Relations officer for the IRGC Ramzan Sharif undertone indicating Iran’s fears of renewed sanctions. He ruled out any consequences following Nasrallah’s admission of receiving money from Iran.

IRGC spokesperson said that his country can’t be under more pressure that it had been before, ruling out the possibility that Nasrallah’s statement would be used as an excuse.

Speaking at the Iranian Judicial Conference in Tehran, Iranian President Hasan Rouhani implied that Iran is afraid of sanctions and that his country needs the foreign investments.

Internally, many parties in Iran condemned U.S. sanctions on national banks for the support of the so-called Hezbollah. Sanctions for supporting terrorism is the main reason many western banks and finical institutions fear of establishing economic cooperation.

Hezbollah has been blacklisted as a “terrorist” organization both by the US and Gulf states.

Earlier, an anti-money laundering body, said that Iran remains on the high-risk countries’ list despite sanction lift-off. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), asked its 37 members to monitor all trade and interactions with companies and personnel in Iran.

Meanwhile, Nasrallah’s statement angered the Iranians again regarding funding the so-called Hezbollah despite economic problems inside of Iran.

Nasrallah’s statement came days after Qasem Soleimani threatened of bloody uprisings in several countries in the region including Bahrain.

According to Iranian parties, Soleimani’s statement is a reaction from IRGC for replacing Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs in Iran’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

In addition, some observers considered that recent statements of Soleimani come in response to Rouhani’s government attempts to normalize relations with western country in a way that might damage the interests of the IRGC.

Other observers fear new sanctions will be imposed on Iran for violating the sanctions on the so-called Hezbollah after the Congress approved on sanctions against Lebanese local banks that deal with the so-called Hezbollah.