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Thursday, June 16, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Congressional leader calls for Obama to halt
U.S. aid to Lebanon

WASHINGTON — Congress has been examining the prospect of suspending U.S. military aid to Lebanon.


A leading House member has led a drive for the administration of President Barack Obama to halt all U.S. aid to Lebanon. House Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said Lebanon's new government was dominated by the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah, designated a terrorist organization.

"The U.S. should immediately cut off assistance to the Lebanese government as long as any violent extremist group designated by the U.S. as foreign terrorist organizations participates in it," Ms. Ros-Lehtinen said.

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Congressional sources said Ms. Ros-Lehtinen was expressing increasing concern by House and Senate leaders over the new government of Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati. Congress has approved $100 million in U.S. military aid for Lebanon in 2011, Middle East Newsline reported.

The administration has approved the export of military and security training as well as combat vehicles to Lebanon. Officials said Obama was pressured by Congress to block planned U.S. defense exports, such as main battle tanks and unmanned aerial vehicles, to the Lebanese Army.

"Hizbullah and its cohorts will control the Lebanese government and likely benefit from the years of U.S. assistance, including to the Lebanese military," Ms. Ros-Lehtinen said. "We cannot undo past mistakes, but we can learn from them and safeguard taxpayer dollars going forward."

In a statement on June 13, the House chairwoman also called on the administration to stop U.S. assistance to the Palestinian Authority. Ms. Ros-Lehtinen cited the agreement by Fatah and Hamas for a national unity government. Hamas has also been cited as terrorist organization by the State Department.

"The U.S. should likewise stop funding the Palestinian Authority, where Hamas appears to be following in Hizbullah's footsteps," Ms. Ros-Lehtinen said. "It is time for U.S. assistance to truly advance our interests, rather than benefit the likes of Hizbullah, Hamas, and their partners."

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