Is Malaysia facing US sanctions after the US House of Representative passed a bill to sanction Hamas supporters?!
Take a look at the viral claim, and find out what the facts really are!
Claim : Malaysia Faces US Sanctions Over Hamas Support!
People are sharing this warning on WhatsApp, which claims that Malaysia is facing US sanctions after the US House of Representative passed a bill to sanction Hamas supporters!
To support the claim, the viral WhatsApp warning includes a link to an MSN article, which has the title – US House approves bill to sanction Hamas supporters
No Evidence Malaysia Faces US Sanctions Over Hamas Support!
This is yet another example of FAKE NEWS created / propagated on WhatsApp, and here are the reasons why…
Fact #1 : US House Bill Was Introduced In January 2023
First, I should point out that the US house bill in question – H.R. 340 : Hamas and Other Palestinian Terrorist Groups International Financing Prevention Act (PDF), was actually introduced on January 12, 2023 (history).
Also known as the “Hamas International Financing Prevention Act“, H.R. 340 was introduced almost 9 months before the terrible October 7 attack.
In short – this bill had nothing to do with the October 7 attack of Israel by Hamas, but its passage was accelerated by the attack.
Fact #2 : Bill Only Passed US House Of Representatives
Next, I should point out that the bill is not yet law – it only passed in the US House of Representatives, with a 363-46 vote.
The bill now heads to the US Senate for its consideration. It is uncertain whether this bill would actually pass in the US Senate in its current form.
Even if it passes the US Senate, it must be signed into law by President Joe Biden, who has the power to veto it. GovTrack rates it as having only 37% chance in being enacted.
Until it is signed into law – no country or entity faces US sanctions through this bill.
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Fact #3 : MSN Article Did Not State Malaysia Faces US Sanctions
The MSN article – which is actually an article by The Jerusalem Post, was shared in the viral warning as “evidence” that Malaysia faces US sanctions over it support of Hamas.
However, anyone who spends just a few minutes to read the article would quickly realise that Malaysia was never mentioned at all. In fact, the article did not mention that any country is at risk of being sanctioned by the US for supporting Hamas.
Fact #4 : Sanctions Are Only Imposed On Foreign Persons
The bill – in its current form – only requires the US President to impose sanctions on any “foreign person” that:
a) “assists in sponsoring”, or providing “significant financial, material, or technology support” or “goods and other services” to enable acts of terrorism; or
b) engages, directly or indirectly, in a significant transaction with a senior member of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the Lion’s Den, or their affiliates / successors.
However, HR340 leaves it to the President to determine which “foreign person” actually qualifies to be sanctioned. On top of that, the President can issue a waiver on a case-by-case basis.
Fact #5 : Only Limited Measures Are Imposed On Foreign States
The bill – in its current form – does not impose any sanctions on foreign states. It only imposes limited “measures” on foreign states that:
a) provides “significant material or financial support” for acts of terrorism; or
b) engages, directly or indirectly, in a significant transaction that contributes to the terrorist activities of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the Lion’s Den, or their affiliates / successors.
Again, HR340 leaves it to the President to determine which “foreign state” actually qualifies to be targeted, and the President can issue a waiver on a case-by-case basis.
Even if a foreign state is identified by the US President as materially supporting terroristic activities by Hamas, HR340 only requires:
- the President to suspend US assistance to that foreign state for at least 1 year,
- the Treasury Secretary to oppose and vote against any loan, financial assistance, or technical assistance by any international financial institution to that foreign state for a period of 1 year
- the President to prohibit the export of American weapons to that foreign state
Again – the bill does not technically impose sanctions on foreign states, only limited measures or penalties.
Fact #6 : HR340 Is Unlikely To Impact Malaysia At All
Even if it passes the US Senate in its current form, and is signed into law by President Joe Biden, HR340 – the Hamas International Financing Prevention Act is unlikely to have any impact on Malaysia.
For one thing – the bill only targets foreign states that provide “significant material or financial support for acts of international terrorism”.
And even if Malaysia is somehow identified as such a country, the limited measures imposed by HR340 will have minimal impact, if at all.
According to the US Department of State, the US government only invests $1 million annually to train Malaysian military service members as part of its International Military Education and Training. The US also provided $220 million in security assistance for the FY2018-2022 – about $44 million per year.
Assuming everything remained the same, Malaysia would only stand to lose a total of $45 million per year in US assistance. That’s a drop in the bucket – 0.05% of Malaysia’s 2023 budget of about $84 billion.
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