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Friday, September 17, 2010

U.S. Security Assistance to Lebanon

Casey L. Addis
Analyst in Middle Eastern Affairs

The United States has provided security assistance to Lebanon in various forms since the 1980s, and the program has expanded considerably in recent years. Since fiscal year 2007, the United States has provided more than $700 million in security assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Internal Security Forces (ISF) to increase the capacity of those forces to combat terrorism and secure Lebanon’s borders against weapons smuggling to Hezbollah and other armed groups. U.S. security assistance is part of a broader assistance program designed to foster a stable and independent Lebanese government. Primary components of the assistance program include:

• More than $490 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) designed to support the LAF’s implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions which, among other things, call for the disarmament of Hezbollah’s militia and the establishment of a weapons-free zone south of the Litani River.

• More than $6 million in International Military and Education Training (IMET) training to reduce sectarianism in the LAF and develop the force as a unifying national institution.

• More than $117 million in Section 1206 funds to move rapidly vehicle spare parts, ammunition, and other basic supplies to the LAF.

• More than $100 million in support for the ISF for training, equipment and vehicles, community policing assistance, and communications.

In 2005, after the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon prompted Syrian withdrawal from Lebanese territory and brought an anti-Syrian and pro-Western government to power, the United States expanded a program of assistance to support that government. After the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, the United States refocused its policy toward building state institutions including the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF) to enable them to assert control over the entire territory of the country and fulfill the principals of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701. To that end, the Bush Administration requested and Congress appropriated an expanded program of security assistance to the LAF and ISF. The Obama Administration has maintained this commitment, requesting for FY2011 more than $132 million for the LAF and ISF.

For Congress, there are broader political questions about the purpose and potential limits of U.S. assistance to Lebanon. Some lawmakers are concerned that U.S. support will be channeled to Hezbollah, while others suggest that U.S. aid could be used against Israel. At the same time, U.S. leaders and some Members of Congress have questioned whether U.S. policy fully considers the political position of the Lebanese and their elected leaders on issues of national defense.

See also CRS Report R40054, Lebanon: Background and U.S. Relations, by Casey L. Addis.

Date of Report: September 1, 2010
Number of Pages: 17
Order Number: R40485
Price: $29.95

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