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The United States has imposed sanctions on Lebanese environmental organization Green Without Borders (GWB) accusing it of being an arm of the Hezbollah terror group. The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has designated GWB and its leader, Zuhair Subhi Nahla, for providing support and cover to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon along the Blue Line “while operating under the guise of environmental activism.”
According to the Treasury Department, Hezbollah operatives man GWB outposts and provide cover for Hezbollah’s warehouses and munitions tunnels. The guards have allegedly prevented UN peacekeepers in Lebanon from accessing certain areas in southern Lebanon along the boundary between Lebanon and Israel.
Established in 2013, GWB claims that its mission is to protect Lebanon’s green areas and plant trees.
“We are not an arm for anyone. We, as an environmental association, work for all the people and we are not politicized,” Nahla told The Associated Press in January. But the U.S. has refuted those claims, saying GWB sites “have been used to conduct Hezbollah weapons training, to provide support for Hezbollah’s activities along the Blue Line in southern Lebanon and to impede the freedom of movement of the UN Security Council-mandated United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).”
In more positive news, French energy group TotalEnergies (NYSE:TTE) has set the first drilling rig at its location in the Mediterranean Sea off Lebanon’s coast near Israel’s border with the country looking to commence operations in the coming weeks to search for gas. The cash-strapped nation hopes that future gas sales could help the country pull out of its deep financial crisis that has seen the local currency lose more than 98% of its value.
The drilling operations come after a landmark U.S.-brokered agreement last year that saw Lebanon and Israel establish a maritime border for the first time ever. Back in May, Lebanon’s Energy Minister Walid Fayad said they hope to determine whether the exploratory block has recoverable gas reserves by the end of the current year.
By Alex Kimani for Oilprice.com
Alex Kimani is a veteran finance writer, investor, engineer and researcher for Safehaven.com.