U.S. quietly halts arms delivery to Lebanon

The U.S. has quietly frozen weapon shipments to Lebanon’s armed forces following the collapse of the country’s pro-Western government in January, underlining growing concerns about Hezbollah’s role there.

The suspension, part of a broader review of U.S. security assistance to Lebanon, offers a cautionary tale about the uncertain course of secular revolts sweeping the Middle East, and Washington’s limited ability to influence them. Lebanon’s Cedar Revolution of 2005 started with a wave of popular protests that stirred pro-democracy hopes in the West, much like the revolts now sweeping the region. But, to the chagrin of the U.S. and its allies, Hezbollah has emerged stronger rather than chastened.

The arms freeze was recently approved by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, but the decision hasn’t been publicly announced because of concerns the disclosure could interfere with delicate internal negotiations in Lebanon over a new government’s makeup and policies.

Defense officials said the U.S. is continuing to provide training and nonlethal assistance to the Lebanese military, describing the ties that are active as “robust.”

Since 2006, the U.S. has provided more than $720 million in support to the Lebanese military, including equipment and advanced training. Between March and October 2010 alone, this support included at least $18 million worth of military equipment and ammunition, including antitank missiles and launchers. Other shipments were in the pipeline for late last year and earlier this year but it is unclear what was delivered.

A senior defense official said the Pentagon is now reviewing all U.S. security assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces “during this period of government formation.” A second U.S. official said the administration would base future decisions about security assistance, including whether to renew deliveries of lethal arms, after assessing the composition and conduct of the next government.

U.S. lawmakers had moved to block aid to the Lebanese army in August after a deadly border clash between Israeli and Lebanese units, but the congressional freeze was only temporary. Congressional aides said new legislation is likely to be introduced in the coming weeks to cut off assistance if the next Lebanese government is dominated by Hezbollah.

Hezbollah, a Shiite political and military group shunned by the U.S. as a terrorist organization, has been Israel’s main foe in south Lebanon. It is backed by Syria and Iran.

Lebanon went through a popular revolt in 2005 following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, whose son, Saad Hariri, later became premier. The car bombing was a pivotal event in Lebanon and led to the end of Syria’s 30-year military occupation of the country.

But early U.S. optimism about the prospect for change “fizzled out,” one senior U.S. official said, and Hezbollah has steadily expanded its reach in the country and beyond, sounding alarm bells in the U.S. and Israel.

The selection in January of a Hezbollah-backed billionaire businessman, Najib Mikati, as the new prime minister, confirmed the movement’s position as the most powerful military and political force in Lebanon. Mr. Mikati takes over for Saad Hariri, who enjoyed Western backing as premier.

Washington’s limited ability to influence events in Lebanon spotlights potential pitfalls of the changes sweeping the region. As countries such as Tunisia and Egypt grapple with the realities of building new political institutions after years of autocracy, officials worry whether any popularly elected governments that emerge will be able to align themselves as closely with Washington’s interests.

Defense officials, however, say they want to keep some level of support for the Lebanese armed forces. Though weakened, officials say, the Lebanese armed forces are likely the only state institution with a chance of maintaining stability.

Officials with Lebanon’s embassy in Washington had no immediate comment.

In talks with their U.S. counterparts, Israeli officials pushed to suspend arms transfers to Lebanon “out of fear that [arms] would end up in the wrong hands and eventually be used against us,” an Israeli official said.

According to new Israeli intelligence estimates, Hezbollah has built as many as 550 bunkers in southern Lebanon, including 100 storage units holding rockets and missiles. Hezbollah has an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 rockets, far more than during the 2006 Lebanon war, Israeli officials say.

In recent weeks, Hezbollah has sought to inject itself into the popular revolutions now sweeping the Arab world. The group has thrown its support behind protests by fellow Shi’ite demonstrators in Bahrain and has criticized Arab states for backing Bahrain’s rulers while supporting the rebels in Libya. WSJ

  • Lebanon121

    no more outdated, non-defensive or offensive weapons. WoW! How will Lebanon defend itself?? How will Lebanon protect itself from near daily incursions by enemy jets into it’s airspace?

    • master09

      Enemy jets are over our country because we have 2 groups in the country HA and PLO that have nothing to do with Lebanon wanting to destroy Isreal at any cost. Would you not protect your home land if you had this at your door step. Isreal wants nothing with Lebanon people. Get these outlaws out of Lebanon remove weapons and any action by Israel will be illegal.

      • Lebanon121

        Last I checked the palestinians are not allowed to go back to their country. So how do you suggest we deal with our fellow Arabs? Arrest them all and deport them to the Sahara, Siberia, Mongolia, or should we blame the enemy that made their situation the way it is and not allow them to invade Lebanon? It is not Israel’s duty to rid us of people you happen to disagree with, the Palestinians and Hezbollah in Lebanon are an internal affair and Lebanon does not need to be bullied into doing something about it! You trying to justify their rogue behavior is abhorrent!

        • master09

          I am not trying to justify anyones actions, but when the internal problem you are talking about is not delt with by the Lebanese government and you have NON state weapons pointed not just at Isreal but at Lebanese people, you think any country is going to stand by and watch. So why dont the Government in Lebanon deal with the NON state weapons. Weapons are not going to solve the Palestinian situation its just going to add to the fire, so get rid of the weapons TALK and if nothing happens than we can accuse Isreal for not doing anything. I dont know I am not an xpert but what I know is we must try something differant than weapons to have peace in Lebanon and Isreal.
          All I pray for is peace Muslims, jews Christians all as one but this will not happen when the whole ME is trying to destroy Isreal.They must TRY TRY and sit to talk.

      • F0sS2U

        What I just told You (look above), You are contradicting yourself in any word, those people or outlaws like You call them are the ones sent by Israel to Lebanon, putting the burden in Our Lebanese Citizens and this is the responsibility of the terrorist state of Israhell and the UN, This is an Outrage to be blamed by the problems caused by Israeli occupation.
        You say that We must remove weapons and those outlaws from Lebanon, I think that Your statements are a mockery for Our Lebanese People and for the situation, how the devil We are going to remove their weapons and all those people??? With a nail clipper? Don’t Be ridiculous!.
        Israhell is causing in My Country terrorism with his actions of boycott.
        But you know that there is not burden that lasts 100 years… if I had You face to face for sure I will shove My words back inside your throat.

    • Beiruti

      USA what a bunch of f*cking hypocrites they’re worried about our government becoming pro-Hezbollah yet they don’t help us, what the hell is that? USA was never any good use in Lebanon they failed miserably in every aspect of everyway. In 1984 USA ran like a bunch of pussies and ever since they dont want any interference in Lebanese politics. I laugh at the USA everyday because their country of 250 million is based on the Israel Lobby thats a fact no one can deny, American taxpayer money goes to Israel, Israel recieves 30 Billion from United States every decade. Technically Israel breastfeeds of USA daily. What a bunch of hypocrites the Americans let them go buzz off from the middle east, using the middle east for the oil we have. Americas not great, the last war they won was WW2 and that was with the help of the Soviet Union, its a failed nation with failed foreign policies. One day they’re going to regret how much they kissed Israels ass when Israel one day shows them the middle finger. Non the less screw Iran Syria and HA.

      • master09

        You are rite about many things but USA also give billions not just Israel but to the rest of the world. I think Lebanon should deal with non state weapons within Lebanon, send the army and demand that weapons be removed from HA and if HA hit back than the world will come, but as long as the Lebanese Government does nothing why would any other country do a thing. Lets show the world that we are taking action on weapons so we can get a helping HAND. Lebanon must take the first ACTION step first to removing non state weapons.

      • lebnaneh

        israel is the us in the middle east they are one person plus why should they do the lebanese work the lebanese have the chance to disarms HA and they did heck all about it so why should the american do it and about the help for our lebanese army why do we need the american help any why they only send every yer few M16 and some clothing and few 155 canon they where use in the second war old as hell we need to start dempanding on ourself and lets not blame others for our mistaks if we care about our lebanon we should act toghether and disarms HA and put all our rubbish leaders on trials as they are all crimials toward us and lebanon

      • Rafic

        Simple answer to you Beiruti is why can’t Arabs in USA do the same lobbying as Israeli lobby, do we not have enough logic to copy them, and I am sure there are lot more people from Arabian countries then Jewish descent and few of them are influential. But I think one of the reason why we are not organized is (I could be wrong) the well established ones are of Christian descent and one of the reason they left Middle East was they where either discriminated or persecuted by Muslim extremist in Middle East and they do not have a good taste in their mouth,and see still how Christians are suffering in Lebanon , Iraq and Egypt, so logic tells you few been burnt and maybe became callous,.Again I might be wrong ,any pro or Con oppinons?

        • Lebanon121

          No Arab unity, there is no unity what so ever. Jewish people are very united and a united people are a very strong force to compete with, they have a common cause. We Arabs can not find a common cause to work for, Arab countries are not even united much less the Arab people. We Arabs always allow religion to cause disunity, we need a revival of pan-Arabisim. Common language and culture should unite us, if we were we would hold more sway and respect in the world. That is my opinion on why the Arab world is so fragmented and weak.

  • Lebanon121

    no more outdated, non-defensive or offensive weapons. WoW! How will Lebanon defend itself?? How will Lebanon protect itself from near daily incursions by enemy jets into it’s airspace?

    • master09

      Enemy jets are over our country because we have 2 groups in the country HA and PLO that have nothing to do with Lebanon wanting to destroy Isreal at any cost. Would you not protect your home land if you had this at your door step. Isreal wants nothing with Lebanon people. Get these outlaws out of Lebanon remove weapons and any action by Israel will be illegal.

      • F0sS2U

        What I just told You (look above), You are contradicting yourself in any word, those people or outlaws like You call them are the ones sent by Israel to Lebanon, putting the burden in Our Lebanese Citizens and this is the responsibility of the terrorist state of Israhell and the UN, This is an Outrage to be blamed by the problems caused by Israeli occupation.
        You say that We must remove weapons and those outlaws from Lebanon, I think that Your statements are a mockery for Our Lebanese People and for the situation, how the devil We are going to remove their weapons and all those people??? With a nail clipper? Don’t Be ridiculous!.
        Israhell is causing in My Country terrorism with his actions of boycott.
        But you know that there is not burden that lasts 100 years… if I had You face to face for sure I will shove My words back inside your throat.

  • Anonymous

    no more outdated, non-defensive or offensive weapons. WoW! How will Lebanon defend itself?? How will Lebanon protect itself from near daily incursions by enemy jets into it’s airspace?

    • Anonymous

      Enemy jets are over our country because we have 2 groups in the country HA and PLO that have nothing to do with Lebanon wanting to destroy Isreal at any cost. Would you not protect your home land if you had this at your door step. Isreal wants nothing with Lebanon people. Get these outlaws out of Lebanon remove weapons and any action by Israel will be illegal.

      • Anonymous

        Last I checked the palestinians are not allowed to go back to their country. So how do you suggest we deal with our fellow Arabs? Arrest them all and deport them to the Sahara, Siberia, Mongolia, or should we blame the enemy that made their situation the way it is and not allow them to invade Lebanon? It is not Israel’s duty to rid us of people you happen to disagree with, the Palestinians and Hezbollah in Lebanon are an internal affair and Lebanon does not need to be bullied into doing something about it! You trying to justify their rogue behavior is abhorrent!

        • Anonymous

          I am not trying to justify anyones actions, but when the internal problem you are talking about is not delt with by the Lebanese government and you have NON state weapons pointed not just at Isreal but at Lebanese people, you think any country is going to stand by and watch. So why dont the Government in Lebanon deal with the NON state weapons. Weapons are not going to solve the Palestinian situation its just going to add to the fire, so get rid of the weapons TALK and if nothing happens than we can accuse Isreal for not doing anything. I dont know I am not an xpert but what I know is we must try something differant than weapons to have peace in Lebanon and Isreal.

      • Anonymous

        What I just told You (look above), You are contradicting yourself in any word, those people or outlaws like You call them are the ones sent by Israel to Lebanon, putting the burden in Our Lebanese Citizens and this is the responsibility of the terrorist state of Israhell and the UN, This is an Outrage to be blamed by the problems caused by Israeli occupation.
        You say that We must remove weapons and those outlaws from Lebanon, I think that Your statements are a mockery for Our Lebanese People and for the situation, how the devil We are going to remove their weapons and all those people??? With a nail clipper? Don’t Be ridiculous!.
        Israhell is causing in My Country terrorism with his actions of boycott.
        But you know that there is not burden that lasts 100 years… if I had You face to face for sure I will shove My words back inside your throat.

  • F0sS2U

    Didn’t I told You? USA Hypocrites together with Israel, They blame us for the existence of HA, but they don’t want to defend ourselves, Israel want Lebanon, they want to invade and dispossess all Lebanese from Our Country.
    And those monkeys from the pentagon posing like M.E. here blabbing about democracy.
    What democracy if not a prostitute that serves Your own goals of invasion.
    Who needs American weapons anyway? Russian weapons are effective and not costly at all, and is not only weapons the real secret is the ammo.
    With friends like USA who needs enemies? We need to make a Worldwide Rally against Israhell and USA, enough is enough END TO THE APARTHEID! END TO PARTITION OF LAND IN THE MIDDLE EAST! END TO DICTATORSHIP!

    • master09

      Blame USA and Isreal for all the middle east problems, there is a saying look in your backyard before looking at others and pointing the finger for our own problems. The governments in the middle east are angels who treat there people with respect oh sorry thats how the west treat people while in the ME they treat them like Donkeys and monkeys while they get FAT. Weapons is the answer your rite we need to do more killing,.

      • F0sS2U

        I will start with the displacement of Palestinians to Lebanon, this Displacement is made in Israel the spoiled kid in the M.E. Now this Palestinians are making a hell of life for Lebanese, this hell of Life is made in Israel the origin of all calamities in Lebanon, after that when this people fight against Israel from the Land inside Lebanon, Israhell blames the Lebanese Government, and demands to Our Government to control this “Terrorists” (Look in to Your toilet) When the Lebanese government wants to buy weapons for Our Army, Israhell and USA (La nourrice de Israhell) object and We are left with a burden sacrificing Lebanese Citizens for the benefit of Israhell.
        It’s the same story of ever that when Lebanon is progressing, Israhell bombs the heck of it.

    • master09

      Blame USA and Isreal for all the middle east problems, there is a saying look in your backyard before looking at others and pointing the finger for our own problems. The governments in the middle east are angels who treat there people with respect oh sorry thats how the west treat people while in the ME they treat them like Donkeys and monkeys while they get FAT. Weapons is the answer your rite we need to do more killing,.

      • F0sS2U

        I will start with the displacement of Palestinians to Lebanon, this Displacement is made in Israel the spoiled kid in the M.E. Now this Palestinians are making a hell of life for Lebanese, this hell of Life is made in Israel the origin of all calamities in Lebanon, after that when this people fight against Israel from the Land inside Lebanon, Israhell blames the Lebanese Government, and demands to Our Government to control this “Terrorists” (Look in to Your toilet) When the Lebanese government wants to buy weapons for Our Army, Israhell and USA (La nourrice de Israhell) object and We are left with a burden sacrificing Lebanese Citizens for the benefit of Israhell.
        It’s the same story of ever that when Lebanon is progressing, Israhell bombs the heck of it.

  • Anonymous

    Didn’t I told You? USA Hypocrites together with Israel, They blame us for the existence of HA, but they don’t want to defend ourselves, Israel want Lebanon, they want to invade and dispossess all Lebanese from Our Country.
    And those monkeys form the pentagon posing like M.E. here blabbing about democracy.
    What democracy if not a prostitute that serves Your own goals of invasion.

    • Anonymous

      Blame USA and Isreal for all the middle east problems, there is a saying look in your backyard before looking at others and pointing the finger for our own problems. The governments in the middle east are angels who treat there people with respect oh sorry thats how the west treat people while in the ME they treat them like Donkeys and monkeys while they get FAT.

      • Anonymous

        I will start with the displacement of Palestinians to Lebanon, this Displacement is made in Israel the spoiled kid in the M.E. Now this Palestinians are making a hell of life for Lebanese, this hell of Life is made in Israel the origin of all calamities in Lebanon, after that when this people fight against Israel from the Land inside Lebanon, Israhell blames the Lebanese Government, and demands to Our Government to control this “Terrorists” (Look in to Your toilet) When the Lebanese government wants to buy weapons for Our Army, Israhell and USA (La nourrice de Israhell) object and We are left with a burden sacrificing Lebanese Citizens for the benefit of Israhell.
        It’s the same story of ever that when Lebanon is progressing, Israhell bombs the heck of it.

  • Beiruti

    USA what a bunch of f*cking hypocrites they’re worried about our government becoming pro-Hezbollah yet they don’t help us, what the hell is that? USA was never any good use in Lebanon they failed miserably in every aspect of everyway. In 1984 USA ran like a bunch of pussies and ever since they dont want any interference in Lebanese politics. I laugh at the USA everyday because their country of 250 million is based on the Israel Lobby thats a fact no one can deny, American taxpayer money goes to Israel, Israel recieves 30 Billion from United States every decade. Technically Israel breastfeeds of USA daily. What a bunch of hypocrites the Americans let them go buzz off from the middle east, using the middle east for the oil we have. Americas not great, the last war they won was WW2 and that was with the help of the Soviet Union, its a failed nation with failed foreign policies. One day they’re going to regret how much they kissed Israels ass when Israel one day shows them the middle finger. Non the less screw Iran Syria and HA.

    • master09

      You are rite about many things but USA also give billions not just Israel but to the rest of the world. I think Lebanon should deal with non state weapons within Lebanon, send the army and demand that weapons be removed from HA and if HA hit back than the world will come, but as long as the Lebanese Government does nothing why would any other country do a thing. Lets show the world that we are taking action on weapons so we can get a helping HAND. Lebanon must take the first ACTION step first to removing non state weapons.

    • Rafic

      Simple answer to you Beiruti is why can’t Arabs in USA do the same lobbying as Israeli lobby, do we not have enough logic to copy them, and I am sure there are lot more people from Arabian countries then Jewish descent and few of them are influential. But I think one of the reason why we are not organized is (I could be wrong) the well established ones are of Christian descent and one of the reason they left Middle East was they where either discriminated or persecuted by Muslim extremist in Middle East and they do not have a good taste in their mouth,and see still how Christians are suffering in Lebanon , Iraq and Egypt, so logic tells you few been burnt and maybe became callous,.Again I might be wrong ,any pro or Con oppinons?

  • Anonymous

    USA what a bunch of f*cking hypocrites they’re worried about our government becoming pro-Hezbollah yet they don’t help us, what the hell is that? USA was never any good use in Lebanon they failed miserably in every aspect of everyway. In 1984 USA ran like a bunch of pussies and ever since they dont want any interference in Lebanese politics. I laugh at the USA everyday because their country of 250 million is based on the Israel Lobby thats a fact no one can deny, American taxpayer money goes to Israel, Israel recieves 30 Billion from United States every decade. Technically Israel breastfeeds of USA daily. What a bunch of hypocrites the Americans let them go buzz off from the middle east, using the middle east for the oil we have. Americas not great, the last war they won was WW2 and that was with the help of the Soviet Union, its a failed nation with failed foreign policies. One day they’re going to regret how much they kissed Israels ass when Israel one day shows them the middle finger. Non the less screw Iran Syria and HA.

    • Anonymous

      You are rite about many things but USA also give billions not just Israel but to the rest of the world. I think Lebanon should deal with non state weapons within Lebanon, send the army and demand that weapons be removed from HA and if HA hit back than the world will come, but as long as the Lebanese Government does nothing why would any other country do a thing. Lets show the world that we are taking action on weapons so we can get a helping HAND. Lebanon must take the first ACTION step first to removing non state weapons.

    • Anonymous

      israel is the us in the middle east they are one person plus why should they do the lebanese work the lebanese have the chance to disarms HA and they did heck all about it so why should the american do it and about the help for our lebanese army why do we need the american help any why they only send every yer few M16 and some clothing and few 155 canon they where use in the second war old as hell we need to start dempanding on ourself and lets not blame others for our mistaks if we care about our lebanon we should act toghether and disarms HA and put all our rubbish leaders on trials as they are all crimials toward us and lebanon

    • Anonymous

      Simple answer to you Beiruti is why can’t Arabs in USA do the same lobbying as Israeli lobby, do we not have enough logic to copy them, and I am sure there are lot more people from Arabian countries then Jewish descent and few of them are influential. But I think one of the reason why we are not organized is (I could be wrong) the well established ones are of Christian descent and one of the reason they left Middle East was they where either discriminated or persecuted by Muslim extremist in Middle East and they do not have a good taste in their mouth,and see still how Christians are suffering in Lebanon , Iraq and Egypt, so logic tells you few been burnt and maybe became callous,.Again I might be wrong ,any pro or Con oppinons?

      • Anonymous

        No Arab unity, there is no unity what so ever. Jewish people are very united and a united people are a very strong force to compete with, they have a common cause. We Arabs can not find a common cause to work for, Arab countries are not even united much less the Arab people. We Arabs always allow religion to cause disunity, we need a revival of pan-Arabisim. Common language and culture should unite us, if we were we would hold more sway and respect in the world. That is my opinion on why the Arab world is so fragmented and weak.