WASHINGTON (CN) – Citing Syria’s ongoing attempts to reassert control of Lebanon, President Barack Obama has extended for a year an executive order blocking assets under U.S. jurisdiction that belong to people or entities the U.S. Secretary of State finds are undermining the sovereignty of Lebanon.
Obama specifically cited ongoing attempts by Syria to reassert control of Lebanon through arms transfers to the militant wing of Hizballah as evidence that continuing the sanctions under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act was necessary.
Hizballah has become the leading political force in Lebanon with the power to collapse and form new governments, as it did this January when then Prime Minister Saad Hariri refused to stop cooperating with a United Nations tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of Mr. Hariri’s father Rafik Hariri.
The death of Mr. Hariri senior, who also had served as prime minister, launched a wave of national protests – later dubbed the Cedar Revolution – which forced Syria to withdraw its military forces from the country.
Former President George W. Bush signed Executive Order 13441 in August 2007, and its provisions have been extended every year since.