The Trump administration quietly released $105 million in military aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces amid escalating criticism and concern from American former and current government officials and ambassadors.
The military aid was placed under a mysterious hold for a few months now with little to no explanation. Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and recently traveled to Lebanon, said there was “no legitimate security rationale to withhold funding” from Lebanon and especially during these trying economic and political times.
The Lebanese Armed Forces are widely viewed as one of the sole entities which are able to help protect the protesters and maintain the peaceful nature of Lebanon’s currently ongoing revolution.
According to the Associated Press, the aid was released just a few days before the end of November. A senior administration official confirmed to Insider that the US is “providing $105 million in foreign military financing for the Lebanese Armed Forces.”
The LAF is widely seen as an important “buffer” against Hezbollah supporters and other groups aiming to sway this revolution into a violent protest. Moreover, former US ambassador to Lebanon, Jeffrey Feltman, warned of the potential benefits to both the Iranian and Russian governments from withholding the military funding to Lebanon’s Armed Forces – as this directly serves their political interests.
These voices are echoed from inside the American Government, as Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, who also sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee slammed President Donald Trump in a series of Tweets following his visit to Lebanon, for freezing this aid.
Murphy compared the situation to Trump’s hold on security assistance to Ukraine, warning that doing so could benefit US “enemies” and harm the superpower’s “friends”.
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment by multiple news agencies. However, on Monday, December 3, 2019, a senior State official said on a conference call with reporters that Lebanon’s army is “an excellent partner to the United States” in fighting extremism.