US military aid to Lebanon put on hold – Politics – msnbc.com

Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., said he placed a hold on $100 million in assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces on Aug. 2, because he was concerned about influence the militant group Hezbollah may have in the army. He said those concerns were reinforced a day later when Lebanese soldiers shot and killed an Israeli officer along the two countries’ border.
“Until we know more about this incident and the nature of Hezbollah influence on the (Lebanese army) — and can assure that the (Lebanese army) is a responsible actor — I cannot in good conscience allow the United States to continue sending weapons to Lebanon,” Berman said in a statement.
Hezbollah was not involved in the most recent fighting but some have suggested that the group may have encouraged it.
In announcing the hold, Berman joined other lawmakers in urging the Obama administration to review its policy of providing weapons and training to the Lebanese military.
The Aug. 3 exchange of fire across the Lebanon-Israel border killed four people, including two Lebanese soldiers and the Israeli officer, in the most serious fighting since the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war.
Reps. Ron Klein, D-Fla., and Eric Cantor, R-Va., have made similar calls.
“Lebanon cannot have it both ways,” Cantor said in a statement. “If it wants to align itself with Hezbollah against the forces of democracy, stability and moderation, there will be consequences.”
He noted that the United States has since 2006 given the Lebanese army about $720 million in aid, including M-16 assault rifles, missile launchers, grenade launchers and night-vision goggles in addition to training.
Both the Bush and Obama administrations have backed sending aid to Lebanon’s army, maintaining that a professional military is critical for the government to exert its sovereign authority, which has been challenged by armed Hezbollah militants.
The State Department said Monday there was no evidence that American-supplied equipment had been used by Lebanese soldiers involved in the shooting incident. It said it was not yet clear if the soldiers involved had received U.S. military training.
Spokesman P.J. Crowley defended the assistance.
“We have an extensive military cooperation program with Lebanon because it’s in our interest to have that program,” he said. “It allows the government of Lebanon to expand its sovereignty. We believe that is in the interest of both of our countries and regional stability as a whole.”
Crowley told reporters he was not aware of plans to reevaluate U.S. military cooperation with Lebanon.

no evidence? the photos of the Lebanese soldiers that were shot had American guns!!!!! wtf? no evidence? who do these people think they are kidding?

noahdavidsimon’s posterous

two pictures of LAF soldiers who were on the ground for last week’s cross-border ambush of the IDF. The guns they’re holding are M16’s. Or, as the rifles are better known in the context of Lebanese security assistance, “American-made M16’s:”

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Of course, as Foreign Policy gamely notes, you can never be sure. There’s at least a chance that these rifles are M16 knockoffs made by China, Iran, or Pakistan. Security assistance apologists – then – wouldn’t have to explain why we’re supplying the LAF with the specific weapons that they’re using to incite regional conflict. They’d only have to explain why we’re supplying the LAF with cutting-edge weapons while the Lebanese use different weapons – acquired either from our rising hegemonic rivals or from intransigent nuclear rogues – to incite regional conflict.
Now these M113 APC’s, the ones the LAF used to back their ambush?

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Those definitely came from us [PDF]:

 

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