Washington, DC, July 24, 2017- Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri is meeting with President Donald Trump, members of Congress, and senior officials of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund during his first official visit to Washington DC this week.
Prime Minister Hariri’s visit comes at a time when the State Department is considering drastic cuts to military assistance for the Lebanese armed forces. Representative Darin LaHood (R-18) and Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) introduced H. Res. 252, a bipartisan resolution that reaffirms US commitment to Lebanon’s armed forces while recognizing the challenges to Lebanon’s stability as a result of the conflict in Syria, Iranian support for Hezbollah and advocates for creating safe zones in Syria.
On July 20, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) and Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY) introduced H.R. 3329, which will increase sanctions against Hezbollah. A companion bill, S. 1595, was also introduced in the Senate by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH).
Prime Minister Hariri is working with lawmakers, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, and the administration to make sure that these bills have a positive impact on the people of Lebanon. It is also crucial to ensure the US State Department does not cut funds to the Lebanese army, a move that would drastically affect the power the Lebanese army has while weakening the Lebanese state.
It is essential for the US to recognize the importance of US assistance to the Lebanese government and the Lebanese army. A destabilized Lebanon would result in a strengthened Hezbollah and worsen the crises gripping the region. IDC calls on the US government and the international community to support the establishment of safe zones in Syria to resettle displaced refugees back to their homeland and to continue funding the Lebanese Armed Forces so they can continue their counter-terrorism operations and protect the sovereignty of the country.