US releases $105M in military aid to Lebanon: report

Money had reportedly been on hold without explanation at Office of Management and Budget since September.


The administration of President Donald Trump has released $105 million in military aid to Lebanon, U.S. media reported Monday.

Citing two congressional aides and a State Department official, The Associated Press said the Foreign Military Financing funds for the Lebanese Armed Forces were unblocked before the Thanksgiving holiday last week.

The money had been on hold without explanation at the Office of Management and Budget since September.

It was already approved by Congress and was backed by the Pentagon, State Department and National Security Council, said the AP.

Naysayers of the funds, intended to help counter Iran’s influence in the country, argued that the aid would go to the militant Hezbollah movement, a group designated by Washington as a foreign terrorist organization.

Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy called the report “stunning,” saying holding the money weakened the Lebanese army.

“There’s literally nothing in the Middle East this White House can’t screw up (State and DoD opposed the hold FYI),” Murphy wrote on Twitter.

Lebanon has been rocked by mass protests since October against plans to increase taxes, which quickly turned into wider grievances.

The unrest has forced Prime Minister Saad Hariri to resign, with no progress toward reaching a deal on a new government.

Lebanon suffers from high unemployment, little growth and one of the highest debt ratios in the world, with the debt burden reaching $86.2 billion in the first quarter of 2019, according to the Ministry of Finance.

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