Thursday, August 12, 2010
Lebanon defiant after US suspends military assistance
The Lebanese defence minister Elias Murr has said on Wednesday that the country will refuse military assistance from the US should any aid come with conditions that weapons not be used against Israel. Murr said this after it was revealed that $100 million in US military assistance to Lebanon had been suspended last week.
The aid was halted due to fears that Hezbollah would manage to get hold of any arsenal provided. After Israel and Lebabon clashed at the border on 1 August. Concern was raised that Hezbollah holds influence over the Lebanese military and that the weapons could be used against Israel.
"If someone would like to help the army without restrictions or conditions, he is welcome," Murr said.
"But those who want to help the army on condition that it doesn't protect its territory, people and border from Israel, should keep their money - or give it to Israel instead," Murr said. "We will confront [Israel] with the capabilities that we have."
Howard Berman, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Monday that he had suspended assistance to Lebanon on August 2 amid growing concern in Congress. A day after the decision, fighting on the Lebanese-Israel border led to the death of two Lebanese soldiers, a Lebanese journalist and an Israeli officer. Berman, a strong supporter of Israel, said that the incident reaffirmed the concerns of Congress. Berman had used his legislative prerogative to place a suspension on the money. It remains to be seen how long the suspension will last.
Update Sunday 15/8: Lebanese Defensie minister Elias Murr said that Lebanon has opened a special bank account to receive donations with which weapons can be bought to equip the Lebanese army. Murr said that he and he father already donated $ 670.000.