::: Levant Research Institute :::

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Calls for Reevaluation of Military Assistance to Lebanon

January 14
15:14 2017

"We need a quick review by the new administration," said California Republican Ed Royce.

American military assistance to Lebanon should be reevaluated in the coming year, top congressional sources and experts tell THE WEEKLY STANDARD, following reports that equipment provided to the Lebanese army had been transferred to the Hezbollah terrorist organization and used to boost the Assad regime in Syria.

The calls come weeks after Hezbollah staged a military parade in Syria showing off M113 armored personnel carriers (APCs), which analysts suggested had been illegally transferred to the Iran-controlled group after they were supplied to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) by Washington.

"We need a quick review by the new administration," California congressman Ed Royce, the Republican chairman of the House Foreign Affairs committee, told TWS. "If these troubling reports are true, U.S. assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces must be altered."

The incoming Trump administration would support the congressional push to reevaluate assistance to Lebanon, sources said.

"The Trump team is stacked with people who believe, correctly, that Iran has hijacked Lebanon and is directing some of the state's resources toward Hezbollah," according to a congressional advisor who works closely with Capitol Hill offices on Middle East issues. "They're going to look at security assistance to the LAF as security assistance to Hezbollah, and they're likely to work with Congress to cut it."

Administration officials have in recent days denied that the machinery seen during the Hezbollah parade belonged to the LAF.

"As we noted when this first came up, the Lebanese Armed Forces stated publicly that the vehicles depicted online were never part of their equipment roster," State Department spokesman John Kirby told AFP. He added that a Defense Department analysis also concluded that the troop carriers were not provided by the LAF.

A Pentagon spokesman said that Hezbollah has a "small number" of M113s that "could have come from a variety of sources."

"It's a relatively common vehicle in the region," he said


DEC 23, 2016 | By JENNA LIFHITS | weeklystandard.com

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