Former Lebanese President Hariri and President Trump
Former Lebanese President Hariri and President Trump
Photo: AP
Former Lebanese President Hariri and President Trump

Trump administration lifts hold on Lebanon security aid

Some $105 million in foreign military assistance, the U.S. State Department decided to withhold last October without providing an explanation, is being released after pressure from Congress and U.S. diplomats

Reuters |
Updated: 12.03.19 , 09:19
U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has lifted a mysterious "hold" on more than $100 million in security aid for Lebanon, congressional and State Department officials said, more than a month after lawmakers learned the funds were being blocked.
  • Follow Ynetnews on Facebook and Twitter
  • The U.S. State Department told Congress on October 31 that the White House budget office (OMB) and National Security Council had decided to withhold $105 million in foreign military assistance, without providing any explanation.
    Former Lebanese President Hariri and President Trump Former Lebanese President Hariri and President Trump
    Former Lebanese President Hariri and President Trump
    (Photo: AP)
    As lawmakers demanded answers from the administration about why the aid had been withheld, some compared it with a similar decision from the administration to withhold nearly $400 million in security assistance to Ukraine that also had been approved by Congress.
    That decision has been at the center of an impeachment inquiry into Trump.
    Members of Congress and U.S. diplomats had strongly opposed the move to withhold the aid to Beirut, saying it was crucial to support Lebanon's military as it grappled with instability within the country and the region.
    הפגנה נגד השלטונות ביירות לבנוןהפגנה נגד השלטונות ביירות לבנון
    Anti-government protests in Lebanon
    (Photo: EPA)
    Congressional aides said on Monday the administration had still provided no explanation for the decision to withhold the money, which had been approved by Congress and the State Department.
    They said the OMB released the hold last Wednesday and the administration had begun to "obligate" it, or finalize contracts for how it should be spent.
    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.
    Israeli flags being burned in Beirut after Trump's decision to move U.S. embassy to Jerusalem Israeli flags being burned in Beirut after Trump's decision to move U.S. embassy to Jerusalem
    Israeli flags being burned in Beirut after Trump's decision to move U.S. embassy to Jerusalem
    (Photo: EPA)
    Hale said during congressional testimony that there had been some disagreements about the efficacy of U.S. aid to the Lebanese armed forces.
    On Monday, the 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.
    Lebanon also houses thousands of refugees from war in neighboring Syria.

    First published: 09:19 , 12.03.19
    Talkbacks for this article 0