So Trump’s Administration is withholding $105M in Military Aid to Lebanon. Money approved by Congress. And nobody knows why. This funding has broad support throughout Congress, the Pentagon, State Dept and NSC but it appears someone in the OMB has intervened in delivery.
The importance of this Foreign Military Funding (FMF) to Lebanese Armed Forces is significant in countering Iranian/Syrian/Russian influence in the region.
Those interviewed by NBC News indicate that Trump has not attached personally beneficial strings to this aid before it gets delivered.
So what’s the problem?
Reading the NBC article, it seems a minority view is against FMF to Lebanon because of the belief there’s overlap within their military with Hezbollah. Experts disagree with this and see the Lebanese military as independent of that terrorist organization.
My limited understanding is that a weakened Lebanon does ultimately help Iran, Syria and Russia. Please read the NBC article. It’s got a lot to unpack.
Mystery grows over Lebanon aid hold-up as impeachment looms
The Trump administration is withholding more than $100 million in U.S. military assistance to Lebanon that has been approved by Congress and is favored by his national security team, an assertion of executive control of foreign aid that is similar to the delay in support for Ukraine at the center of the impeachment inquiry.
The aid is important to counter Iran’s influence in Lebanon, which is highlighted by the presence of the Iranian-supported Shiite Hezbollah movement in the government and the group’s militias, the officials said.
There is opposition to aid to the Lebanese army from outside the NSC. Pro-Israel hawks in Congress have long sought to de-fund the Lebanese military, arguing that it has been compromised by Hezbollah, which the U.S. designates as a “foreign terrorist organization.”
But the Pentagon and State Department reject that view, saying the army is the only independent Lebanese institution capable of resisting Hezbollah.
Outside experts agree.
However, several officials said National Security Council staff had deliberately tried to run an end-around of the Pentagon and State Department by demanding a signed presidential determination to release the aid and then slow-walking delivery of the finding to the Oval Office for Trump’s signature. The officials who were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.