WASHINGTON - The US suspended its weapon deliveries to Lebanon
in January, fearing that the munitions will fall into Hezbollah
hands following the collapse of Saad Hariri's
US Defense Secretary Robert Gates approved the moratorium recently, but the decision was not publicized in order to avoid interfering with the forming of a new Lebanese government, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
Meanwhile, the US continues to provide the Lebanese army with training and non-lethal equipment in order to preserve the good ties between the Pentagon and the Lebanese defense establishment.
According to the report, the arms freeze is part of a broader inquiry into US aid to Lebanon. Spurred by pro-democracy hopes raised by the 2005 Cedar Revolution, the US upped its military assistance to Lebanon, not expecting that Hezbollah would gain political traction following the unrest.
Lebanese Armed Forces. (Photo: AP)
According to the Wall Street Journal, the US has provided Lebanon with more than $720 million in military assistance since 2006. The US delivered at least $18 million in ammunition to Lebabon, including antitank missiles and launchers, in 2010 alone.
The article cited an unnamed Israeli official as saying that Israel
has urged the US to stop arming the Lebanese military, for fear that the weapons "would end up in the wrong hands and eventually be used against us."
The arms moratorium is expected to last until a new government is formed in Beirut, in accordance with the findings of the US inquiry.
US lawmakers reportedly tried to block the military aid back in August, prompted by a border skirmish
between Israeli and Lebanese forces during which IDF Lieutenant Colonel Dov Harari was killed. The measure came into effect only after task of forming a new Lebanese government fell into the hands of Hezbollah and Syria-backed billionaire Najib Mikati,
when the US government realized that it is losing its grip on the events unraveling in Lebanon.
The Pentagon has expressed concern that the wave of pro-democracy protests in Lebanon and other Arab nations might eventually cause hostile and radical regimes to emerge.