Trump administration lifts hold on Lebanon security aid

Joanna Estrada
December 3, 2019

The Donald Trump administration has lifted a hold on $105 million in security assistance to Lebanon after failing to explain the delay in military aid that could date as far back as June.

That's according to two congressional staffers and an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly to the matter.

As first reported by Reuters, the U.S. State Department told Congress on October 31 that the White House budget office (OMB) and National Security Council had chose to withhold $105 million in foreign military assistance, without providing any explanation.

A senior State Department official confirmed that the money had been released but declined to provide an explanation for why it was suspended or why it was released, beyond referring to recent comments by Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale. Hale described growing consternation among diplomats about the delay. The State Department had offered only a cryptic response to queries, defending the assistance but also calling for Lebanese authorities to implement economic reforms and rein in corruption.

Not everyone in Congress loves the idea of sending aid to Lebanon, despite its approval from the national security community and the Defense Department. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), want to put a stop to it as long as the Tehran-backed Shiite Hezbollah movement remains part of Beirut's government. Those agencies insisted that USA military aid helps block the spread of Iran-backed Lebanese Hezbollah's influence in the country, which has seen most aspects of daily life disrupted by protests over a looming economic crisis sparked by Beirut floating a tax on WhatsApp messages in October.

The Pentagon and State Department reject that view, saying the army is the only independent Lebanese institution capable of resisting Hezbollah.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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