An Update from CUFI Action Fund
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Earlier this week it was reported that the French Minister of the Armed Forces, said, “Hezbollah is a legitimate political party.” In this week’s Action Update we’ll discuss recent events in Lebanon (spoiler alert: the French are wrong), as well the latest progress to normalize relations between the UAE and Israel.

Meet the New Boss…

Lebanon’s new prime minister, Mustapha Adib, was nominated by the Hezbollah coalition in Beirut’s parliament and the people of that country are understandably enraged. When Adib visited an area of Beirut damaged by the recent blast there, a crowd quickly swarmed around him, chanting “revolution,” and Adib was whisked away by armed security.

Things are not getting better for the Lebanese people. The sectarian government there is an anachronism, and no matter how many times they change figureheads, the real power in the country is Hezbollah. The rampant unemployment, poverty and flares of chaos in Lebanon are all a direct result of their being controlled by an Iranian-backed terrorist army. So, no Hezbollah is not a “legitimate political party.” They are a cancer choking the life out of Lebanon.

Over consecutive administrations our failed Lebanon policy has remained, with the State Department most recently doubling down and throwing more money after bad. US policy in Lebanon will in effect continue to prop up Hezbollah if we continue to act as though the French Armed Forces Minister is correct.

Enter the Turks

Elsewhere in Lebanon, it appears Turkey is making a play for influence in the country. According to a report in Al-Arabiya, citing Lebanese intelligence sources, Ankara is sending weapons into the country’s north. Lebanon’s population is split between Sunni, Shia and Christian inhabitants. Shia dominated Iran, via Hezbollah, seeks to manipulate sectarian divides. Lebanon would only be worse off if it turns out Sunni dominated Turkey is now attempting to do the same.

The US has options here. First and foremost, we should ignore the French. Their recent contributions to Middle Eastern stability include midwifing the Iran nuclear deal, and now giving the good housekeeping seal of approval to a murderous terrorist organization. Likewise, we should ignore those that argue that by funding the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) – who answer to the terrorist-backed government in Beirut – we are somehow helping the Lebanese people. You can’t be pro-Lebanon and pro-Hezbollah at the same time. The two positions are mutually exclusive.

Finally, we need to make clear to Ankara that their Ottoman style efforts to ascend in the Mediterranean will fail. It’s long passed time for sanctions to be leveled against the Erdogan regime. In fact, the EU will be discussing sanctions against Ankara during their next meeting later this month. Here in the US, a bipartisan Turkey sanctions bill exists, S. 2641, which  was passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee with 20 cosponsors. A variation of this bill was passed by the House. Its time for this bill to move forward.

UAE-Israel Normalization

And now for a bit of good news. The UAE and Israel continue to progress in their efforts to normalize relations between the two countries. For starters, the UAE formally ended its decades long boycott of the Jewish state. In addition, on Monday, the first Israeli commercial flight landed in the UAE. Among other officials, Jared Kushner and the Director of Israel's National Security Council, Meir Ben-Shabbat were on board the flight. Upon their arrival, Kushner and Ben-Shabbat met with the UAE’s foreign minister. Interestingly, despite having no formal relations with Israel, the Israel to UAE flight was allowed to pass through Saudi airspace. Another step towards peace in the region.

From Iran and Turkey to the UAE and Israel, the lines between good and evil, between peace and conflict, are made clearer every day. But regardless of how the sands in the Middle East shift, you can rest assured that the CUFI Action Fund will be on top of the issues, ensuring your voice is heard in our nation’s capital and that the US-Israel relationship is made stronger each and every day. 


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