BEIRUT: Confusion continues around the recent media leak by two U.S. officials that Washington will withhold $105 million in military aid to Lebanon, with a State Department official saying over the weekend that financing for the Lebanese Army has not been delayed.
“The Lebanon [foreign military financing] has been apportioned by the administration. No Lebanese expenditures or purchases of military materiel with [foreign military financing] have been delayed,” the official recently told The Daily Star in an email.
Last week, two U.S. officials told Reuters that the State Department had told Congress of a decision by the White House budget office and National Security Council to withhold foreign military assistance. No reason was given.
Asked if this meant there had been a reversal or change in U.S. foreign policy toward the Army or Lebanon, the official said: “As the sole legitimate defense arm of the Government of Lebanon, the United States remains committed to strengthening the capacity of the Lebanese Armed Forces to secure Lebanon’s borders, defend its sovereignty, and preserve its stability.”
Speaking of the recent protests in Lebanon, which reached their 19th day on Monday, the official said Washington continues to support the efforts of the Lebanese people to form “a new efficient and effective government that will bring economic reform, and an end to endemic corruption.”
Violence broke out on multiple occasions during the protests with supporters of Hezbollah and Amal taking to the streets to beat protesters and vandalize tents set up by demonstrators.
“We have expressed clearly our concerns at violence or provocative actions against protestors and note efforts by the [Army] and other institutions to ensure the rights and safety of the protesters,” the official said.