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US Sanctions Lebanese Environmental Group for Hezbollah Ties

The US imposed sanctions on Green Without Borders and its leader, Zuhair Subhi Nahla, for providing cover for Hezbollah’s activities in southern Lebanon.

WASHINGTON — The US Treasury Department on Wednesday imposed sanctions on a Lebanese environmental group it said acted as a front for Hezbollah in southern Lebanon “under the guise of environmental activism.”

Green Without Borders (GWB) maintains outposts manned by Hezbollah operatives in more than a dozen locations along the Blue Line border between Israel and Lebanon, Treasury said in a statement. 

The outposts allegedly serve as cover for Hezbollah warehouses and munitions storage tunnels and have been used by the Iran-backed militant group to conduct weapons training over the past decade. Such activities in the border area are banned under the UN Security Council resolution that ended the 2006 war in Lebanon. 

The sites have also interfered with UN peacekeepers’ access to the Blue Line, Treasury said. 

“The United States rejects Hezbollah’s cynical efforts to cloak its destabilizing terrorist activities with false environmentalism,” said Brian Nelson, Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. 

“We will continue to support the many Lebanese civil society groups protecting Lebanon’s unique and sensitive natural environment while also relentlessly pursuing Hezbollah and their support networks,” Nelson said in a statement. 

GWB formed in 2013 ostensibly to support Lebanon’s environment through reforestation. Its leader, Zuhair Subhi Nahla, claims his organization isn’t part of Hezbollah but according to the Treasury has previously acknowledged a link. 

“We are not an arm for anyone,” Nahla told The Associated Press in January. “We as an environmental association work for all the people and we are not politicized.” 

Alleged collaboration between Nahla’s organization and Hezbollah is widely documented. The US Mission to the United Nations called GWB in March 2022 “a so-called environmental group… acting on Hezbollah’s behalf.” In 2017, Israel provided the UN Security Council with photos purporting to show a network of Hezbollah observation posts installed by GWB. 

The US sanctions come as tensions remain high along the Israel-Lebanon border. During a visit to the border region last week, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant last week vowed to “return Lebanon to the Stone Age” if Hezbollah starts war with Israel.  

Source : Al-Monitor