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The Cradle
Newly-elected Lebanon MP calls for sanctions on his own country
Twitter users reacted in anger to MP Mark Daou's call for sanctions on his own crisis-ridden, poverty-stricken country
By News Desk - June 05 2022
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Lebanon’s newly elected parliament convenes for the first time in Beirut, Lebanon on 31 May 2022. (Photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir)

Newly-elected Lebanese Member of Parliament (MP) Mark Daou has come under fire after calling for sanctions on his own country, in an interview he gave to Middle East Eye (MEE) on 3 June.

“I would like to see US sanctions on those accused [in the port explosion] and sanctions on those involved in the Central Bank of Lebanon,” Daou told MEE.

Due to the politicization of the Beirut port explosion by Judge Tarek Bitar, who was recused of his position several times for using the tragedy to exact political scores against Hezbollah and their allies, Daou is indirectly calling for sanctions on his political opponents, including Hezbollah.

The newly-elected MP Mark Daou won his seat in a race against long-time Druze ally of Hezbollah Talal Arslan.

Daou received only 11,656 preferential votes in Lebanon’s complicated electoral system, a relatively small amount of votes.

By comparison, a single Hezbollah candidate, Hassan Ezzeddine, received 27,927 preferential votes from his district. He was among the Hezbollah candidates who received one of the lower counts of preferential votes, whereas Hezbollah MP Mohammad Raad received 48,543 preferential votes, one of the highest counts for the slate of Hezbollah candidates.

Sanctions typically affect the people of the country far worse than it affects the public officials targeted by the sanctions. Lebanon has experienced a massive economic collapse since October 2019, with the country seeing triple-digit hyperinflation.

Twitter users criticized Daou, referring to him as a ‘traitor.’ The amount of quoted tweets, consisting mostly of Lebanese people angry at his call for further crippling the economy, outnumbered the amount of likes and retweets.

Many accused him of working for  NGOs funded by George Soros, and that his election victory was won due to his support of the US and Saudi Arabia.

Daou was elected as part of the ‘civil society’ bloc, which are aligned with US-backed NGOs operating in Lebanon.

The Cradle columnist Sharmine Narwani questioned the sincerity of claims made by ‘civil’ society candidates that the call for sanctions against their own country is in support of Lebanese sovereignty.

Hezbollah MP Ibrahim al-Moussawi took to Twitter to similarly question Daou’s claims of supporting Lebanese sovereignty.

Daou also stated that the best hope for Lebanon is if the US assists in getting the IMF to approve loans for an energy-sharing deal between Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon through Syria.

He further called on the US to issue the sanctions waiver necessary for the energy to pass through Syria into Lebanon.

“That would be a game-changer for us (Lebanon) and it’s currently decided by the US,” Daou stated. “If they remove the sanctions, then we will get electricity, a core thing to stop the fall in the currency and the crisis in basic services.”

Despite the US brokering this plan, it has been revealed that the US is behind the IMF decision to block funds needed for this project, as well as the refusal to issue a sanctions waiver to this date.

The US plan was announced just after Hezbollah sought to import Iranian fuel to avert the man-made fuel shortage plaguing the country.

In a speech on 8 March, Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah warned of the lack of assurances from the US on this energy-sharing project.

“Have the Lebanese officials obtained anything from the Americans who are only offering false promises? To this day, the US State Department has not given Egypt and Jordan documents exempting them from the Caesar Act,” Nasrallah said.

Hezbollah has repeatedly requested that the Lebanese government accept standing infrastructure offers from the Iranian, Russian, and Chinese governments, which would help resolve the energy crisis in Lebanon.

The state continues to ignore these offers.

Nasrallah has also called for the Lebanese state to extract the large energy reserves that exist in its territorial waters.

“Extracting oil is the main opportunity for getting ourselves out of the crisis we are in, not begging and asking the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for loans,” the Hezbollah leader said.

Due to the lack of a clear parliamentary blocking majority, Hezbollah has called on all parties to cooperate to save the country form the current crises it faces.

Hezbollah has criticized those parties that do not have plans or policy proposals for fixing the country and which focus only on confiscating the weapons of the resistance.

The head of Lebanon’s Directorate of General Security, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, warned that the country is facing a political deadlock due to the lack of a legislative majority in the newly elected parliament.

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