Hezbollah rejects IMF intervention and braces for new sanctions

Hezbollah deputy Secretary-General Naim Qassem said while the group is not opposed to consultations, it would oppose any loan
Wednesday 26/02/2020
Members of IMF experts are seen leaving after meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab at the government palace in Beirut, Lebanon February 20, 2020. (REUTERS)
Members of IMF experts are seen leaving after meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Hassan Diab at the government palace in Beirut, Lebanon February 20, 2020. (REUTERS)

LONDON – As Hezbollah rejected an intervention from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Lebanon’s flailing economy, reports emerged that the group could be facing a new round of international sanctions. 

Hezbollah deputy Secretary-General Naim Qassem announced that his party would not permit the IMF to manage Lebanon’s financial crisis, indicating that the Hezbollah-backed government would reject any IMF loan that would necessitate harsh financial conditions to bail Lebanon out. 

“We will not succumb to arrogant means to address the crisis… we will not let the IMF manage the crisis,” Qassem said. 

“Yes, we do not mind consultations (with the IMF), this is what the Lebanese government is doing,” he added. 

Lebanon is facing a huge public debt burden and liquidity crunch, with analysts expecting Beirut to announce a sovereign debt restructuring in the near future. Although the government has sought IMF technical assistance, it has not requested financial aid. 

An IMF technical team visited Beirut earlier this week. “The discussions on the challenges and the authorities’ plans to address them were very informative and productive,” IMF spokesman Gerry Rice said.

“Staff is available to provide further technical advice to the government as it formulates its economic reform plans,” he added. 

The government is coming under increasing pressure over how it aims to deal with the financial crisis, particularly as a $1.2 billion Eurobond is set to come due on March 9, potentially further exacerbating the crisis. 

The situation could get even worse for Hezbollah after reports emerged that Washington could look to lay down a new round of sanctions against the group

Quoting “credible” diplomatic sources in Washington, Lebanon’s Nidaa Al-Watan newspaper reported that the US Treasury is set to release a new list of sanctions targeting Hezbollah, including an unnamed “former sovereign minister and ally of Hezbollah.”