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Trump Admin Quietly Releases Lebanon Military Aid

Trump Admin Quietly Releases Lebanon Military Aid
folder_openUnited States access_time 12 days ago
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By Staff, Agencies

The Trump administration has quietly released more than $100 million in military assistance to Lebanon after months of unexplained delay that led some US lawmakers to compare it to the aid for Ukraine at the center of the Trump impeachment inquiry.

The $105 million in Foreign Military Financing funds for the Lebanese Army was released just before the US Thanksgiving holiday and US lawmakers were notified of the step on Monday, according to two congressional staffers and an administration official.

All three spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

The money had languished in limbo at the Office of Management and Budget since September although it had already won congressional approval and had overwhelming support from the Pentagon, State Department and National Security Council. The White House has yet to offer any explanation for the delay despite repeated queries from Congress.

Lawmakers such as Eliot Engel, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Chris Murphy had pressed the administration since October to either release the funds or explain why they were being withheld. The State Department had notified Congress on Sept. 5 that the money would be spent.

Earlier this month, the delay came up in impeachment testimony by David Hale, the No. 3 official in the State Department, according to the transcript of the closed-door hearing. Hale described growing consternation among diplomats about the delay.

The White House and the Office of Management and Budget have declined to comment on the matter. The State Department had offered only a cryptic response to queries, defending the assistance but also calling for Lebanese authorities to implement economic reforms and rein in corruption.

The delay had frustrated the US national security community, which believes the assistance that pays for US-made military equipment for the Lebanese Army is essential, particularly as Lebanon reels from financial chaos and mass protests.

Accordingly, some pro-“Israel” members of Congress have long sought to de-fund the Lebanese military.