U.S. ambassador to Lebanon notes Hizbullah’s clout in new cabinet

by WorldTribune Staff, February 22, 2019

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard has voiced concern over Hizbullah’s increasing power in Lebanese parliament and in the new cabinet of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard speaks with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri. / AP

In a meeting with Hariri on Feb. 19, the U.S. ambassador said she was “very frank with the prime minister about U.S. concern over the growing role in the cabinet of an organization that continues to maintain a militia that is not under the control of the government.”

She added that Iran-backed Hizbullah continues to make its own “national security decisions” that “endanger the rest of the country.”

In the newly formed Lebanese cabinet, which was announced several weeks ago, Hizbullah representatives were named to the health minister and two other posts.

Hizbullah and its allies gained more than half the seats of the 128-member Lebanese parliament in the election which took place in May of 2018.

Richard said Hizbullah continues to violate Lebanon’s policy of non-involvement in regional conflicts by fighting in “at least three countries.” She was likely referring to Syria, where the group fights alongside the government, and Iraq and Yemen, where Iran supports local armed terror groups.

The U.S. continues to be a strong supporter of Lebanon’s national army, supplying it with arms worth hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years.

Richard said the United States in 2018 provided more than $825 million in assistance, an increase from the year before. She said the U.S. has also supported education and development programs to help Lebanese communities “deal with the unprecedented demands placed on them when their Syrian neighbors fled.”

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