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Friday, January 28, 2011

Berman calls on White House to stop arms shipments to Lebanon

US Representative Howard Berman (D-Cal), the ranking minority member of the House Foreign affairs committee, has called on the Obama administration to suspend all military aid to Lebanon in light of the fact that Hezbullah will likely form the next government.
I call on President Obama immediately to suspend all weapons transfers to Lebanon and to review carefully all economic assistance programs in order to ensure that they are not inadvertently strengthening Hizbullah,” Berman said.

Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), who chairs the appropriations subcommittee overseeing foreign operations, under which Lebanon aid falls, said the recent developments were likely to hurt the relationship between the two countries.

“The political transition in Lebanon is an unfortunate step backward. It is doubtful that an Iranian-backed regime will be a partner of the United States,” she said. “I will continue to monitor the situation closely and support policies that promote democracy and peace for the Lebanese people and its neighbors.”

Though Congress had already approved funds for the Lebanese Armed Forces before the government fell and the balance of power shifted toward Hizbullah, Congress can use its influence over the country’s purse strings to push for an aid shut off, pending the administration’s decision.

One Democratic aide to a member on the foreign operations appropriations subcommittee said Congress was carefully watching the situation in Lebanon and waiting for a determination from the State Department on how to deal with future disbursements to Lebanon.

He said that there were still legislators who felt it was important for American influence to be visible in the country through economic assistance but that voices for cutting off aid were now magnified.

“There are already members of Congress who’d like to see aid cut off,” he said. “The latest developments only strengthen their hand, and the fact that we now have a GOP-controlled Congress makes a cut off in aid to Lebanon even more likely.”
Yeah, those evil Republicans don't care much for the red-green alliance, do they?

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