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An Update from CUFI Action Fund













On June 20th, the Department of Defense was mandated by law to report to Congress on the status of efforts of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) to extricate Hezbollah from both its entrenched position in southern Lebanon and its infiltration of the US-backed Lebanese military. Sadly, June 20th came and went with no report.

On its own, this failure to thus far issue the report to Congress is highly problematic. But ever since the CUFI Action Fund took on the issue of unconditional American aid to the LAF, it’s become clear that forces with the Departments of Defense and State would rather these taxpayer funds receive no scrutiny or oversight from Congress. The failure to issue the report is just the latest example of bureaucratic stonewalling of Congressional and public efforts to ensure that American assistance is not going prop up terror run regimes.

Who’s Getting Your Money?

According to a CUFI primer on US aid to the LAF, “Since  2005 the United States has provided over $2 billion in aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces. These  taxpayer dollars enable the LAF to procure American military weapons and training.”    

This unconditional aid continues despite LAF coordination with and infiltration by Hezbollah. Moreover, late last year, a CUFI staff member authored an op-ed noting that in Beirut, “Hezbollah’s governing coalition holds a majority. Furthermore, the president of Lebanon is an open ally of Hezbollah, and a majority of the Cabinet are members of or allied with Hezbollah — including the ministers of Defense, Justice, Finance and Public Health.”

In sum, US taxpayer dollars are going to a military that is led by a government allied with Hezbollah, commanders coordinating with the terrorist organization, and an army comprised of many rank-and-file soldiers in league with the world’s most strategically relevant terrorist group.

Why (on earth!) are we Sending Americans’ Hard Earned Cash to the LAF?

None of the above facts are in dispute. And though the aforementioned report would have given the Department of Defense the opportunity to highlight any relevant progress made in Lebanon, that report never came. So why are entrenched forces inside the Departments of State and Defense working so hard behind the scenes to defend this aid? Because they think that it buys stability in Lebanon. They’re wrong. It does not purchase stability; it rents it. And the one ultimately cashing the check is the Iran-backed and Hezbollah-allied government in Beirut.

Historically, making such deals with devils in the Middle East has not ended well for Western interests in the region. While at times American national security interests necessitate alliances with country’s whose leaders do not share our values, in those cases the governments’ end goals are similar to the ours. Lebanon is not an example of such realpolitik.

Lebanon’s government is backed by openly hostile forces. And each day, their boots on the ground grow in strength and sophistication. Case in point, Hezbollah is receiving precision guided munitions from Iran with the Lebanese government’s and the US-backed LAF’s acquiescence. Those missiles have one target: Israel.

So What’s Being Done About It?

When the Action Fund first set out to address this issue, we met with stakeholders, listened to differing viewpoints, and ultimately supported legislation that would condition just twenty percent of US aid to the LAF on the Lebanese army meeting certain benchmarks concerning Hezbollah. The hope was that conditioning a portion of the aid would allow those within the LAF who are not affiliated with Hezbollah to leverage this issue internally. But the Defense Department’s failure to issue the report and unwillingness to reassess our failed policy in Lebanon show a more forward leaning approach is warranted.

The Action Fund is now supporting two amendments to the Fiscal Year 2021 State Foreign Operations Appropriations bill that focus on US funding of the LAF. The first amendment, offered by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), would withhold funding to the LAF if it is determined that the Lebanese military and Internal Security Forces (ISF) are engaged in human rights abuses.

The second, offered by Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), would withhold US aid to the Lebanese military unless the Secretary of State certifies to Congress that the LAF and ISF “are dismantling Hezbollah’s precision guided missile assembly and launching facilities embedded in civilian areas, the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon has complete access to all sites determined necessary to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon has access to and has suspended cross border tunnels into Israel.”

Regardless of party or political ideology we should all be able to agree that US taxpayer funds should not be sent to a human rights abusing, terrorist-allied government. If the Departments of Defense and State disagree, let them say so publicly and justify sending taxpayer money to a Hezbollah controlled nation such as Lebanon. We at the CUFI Action Fund will not relent until no more American taxpayer dollars are sent to those who would do harm to us and our ally Israel.


Sincerely,

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