Washington, DC – In Defense of Christians (IDC), the nation’s leading advocacy organization for Christians and religious minorities in the Middle East and Africa, commends U.S. President Joe Biden and his administration for increasing support to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).
On May 21, the Department of State (DOS) and the LAF held their inaugural Defense Resourcing Conference. Senior-level participants included: U.S. Senior Official for Arms Control and International Security C.S. Eliot Kang, LAF Commander General Joseph Aoun, Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Mara Karlin, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Dorothy Shea, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Regional Security and Security Assistance Mira Resnick, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Levant Affairs Aimee Cutrona.
A non-binding five-year security assistance roadmap was agreed to which identified anticipated areas of cooperation, including counterterrorism, border security, and defense institution building.
The DOS renewed its commitment to the LAF by announcing $120 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) assistance to Lebanon for fiscal year 2021, a $15 million increase over prior-year levels.
This comes after notification, from the the Department of Defense (DOD), earlier this month to Lebanon that it is planning on transferring three Protector-class patrol boats to the Lebanese Navy that will enhance the Lebanese Navy’s capabilities to confront foreign threats and ensure the maritime domain remains peaceful and free.
This assistance was announced days after Rep. Gregory Meeks, Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sent a letter to the Biden Administration to prioritize a strong U.S. response to the increasingly unstable situation in Lebanon, which highlighted support for the LAF.
“We commend the Biden Administration for increasing assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces,” said IDC President Toufic Baaklini. “The LAF is a crucial institution to counter the threat of Hezbollah, and safeguard the peaceful coexistence of Lebanon’s various religions and sects. While much more needs to be done to respond to the increasing political instability and humanitarian crisis in Lebanon, this is an encouraging start,” he added.