In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Mrs. Clinton said that after new Lebanese Prime Minister Nijab Mikati has formed a government, “we will review its composition, its policies, and its behavior to determine the extent of Hezbollah’s political influence over it.”
“I believe still at this point that we should continue supporting the Lebanese Armed Forces,” she said, arguing that strong “military-to-military ties” with the LAF could pay dividends in the way similar bonds with Egypt did.
“We worry that if the United States does not continue supporting the Lebanese Armed Forces, its capabilities will rapidly deteriorate, security in the south and along the border with Israel will be at risk,” she added.
The LAF stayed on the sidelines during the 2006 conflict, though many fear it could be drawn into a new war with the Jewish state, particularly after a border skirmish last August left five dead.
“The U.S. doesn’t want to be arming two sides of a conflict here,” said David Schenker, a senior fellow of Arab politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
But some on the Hill are seeking guarantees.
“We must signal to American allies in Lebanon that we will continue to support them, while we vigorously oppose Hezbollah,” said Mr. Berman, California Democrat. “We must set rigorous requirements for the provision of foreign assistance to Lebanon during periods when Hezbollah is part of the Lebanese government or determines the composition of it in any way.”View Entire Story
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Ben Birnbaum is a reporter covering foreign affairs for The Washington Times. Prior to joining The Times, Birnbaum worked as a reporter-researcher at the New Republic. A Boston-area native, he graduated magna cum laude from Cornell University with a degree in government and psychology. He won multiple collegiate journalism awards for his articles and columns in the Cornell Daily Sun.
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