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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lebanon ups the ante

In response to US lawmakers blocking military aid to Lebanon, Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr said on Wednesday that he would reject any military aid that includes restrictions against its use against Israel.
Murr said those who want to help the Lebanese army but place conditions on how their funds or weapons are used, should keep the money.

He also said a Lebanese soldier who opened fire across the border with Israel earlier in August was acting on orders. The clash killed two Lebanese soldiers, a Lebanese journalist and an Israel Defense Forces officer.

In response to the remarks, U.S. State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley rejected the claim that the United States was halting military ties with Lebanon and said that the country is committed to its relationship with Lebanon, but has conditions for its assistance.

"We continue to believe that investing in Lebanon's government and investing in Lebanon's military serves as a stabilizing influence and expands and strengthens Lebanon's sovereignty," Crowley said during a press conference.

He added that "we place conditions on how our military aid is delivered, and there are similar conditions in terms of how Israel is able to use the assistance we provide them."

"Nothing that we do is condition-free," he said, adding that "obviously we think that the nature of our training programs, the nature of the equipment that we do provide to Lebanon is in our interest, and in Lebanon's interest. And this is a relationship that we hope to strengthen."
So Lebanon's Defense Minister admits that his army murdered an Israeli Lieutenant Colonel in cold blood; he says that the shooter was 'acting on orders,' and yet... no, no one is going to even re-assess whether the US should be sending military aid to Lebanon.
The United States said it has seen no evidence indicating that American weapons were used by Lebanese soldiers in the cross-border incident.
According to State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, Washington has no intention of re-evaluating its military relationship with Lebanon despite calls from Israel to do so.

"[U.S. financial aid to the army] allows the government of Lebanon to expand its sovereignty," Crowley said. "We think that is in the interest of both of our countries and regional stability as a whole."

The Lebanese Army is seen as woefully under-equipped compared to Hezbollah, which is believed to have been rearming since its 2006 war with Israel. The military lost 170 troops when battling an Al-Qaida-inspired Islamist group holed up in a Palestinian refugee camp in 2007.
The US said it has seen no evidence indicating that American weapons were used by Lebanese soldiers in the cross-border incident. The second picture in this post shows Lebanese soldiers (the ones with the black berets) holding weapons that ought to look very familiar to the US military. They're US-issue M-16 rifles.



At 12:32 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Its a US-equipped Hezbollah army. The distinction between the official Lebanese army and the Hezbollah militia is a very thin one - and for all practical extents and purposes they are both one and the same.


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