U.S. quietly halts arms delivery to Lebanon

April 5, 2011 - 0:0

The United States has quietly frozen weapon shipments to Lebanon's armed forces following the collapse of the country's pro-Western government.

The suspension was part of a broader review of U.S. security assistance to Lebanon after Hezbollah has emerged as a key player in the government, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
Washington is concerned about Hezbollah, which has backed billionaire businessman Najib Mikati as prime minister and was appointed on January 25 to form a new government.
Hezbollah toppled the Western-backed government of Saad Hariri in January after he refused to cut ties with the U.S. backed tribunal investigating his father's 2005 murder.
The arms freeze was recently approved by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, but the decision has not been publicly announced because of concerns the disclosure could interfere with delicate internal negotiations in Lebanon, the paper said.
Defense officials said the United States was continuing to provide training and non-lethal assistance to the Lebanese military, describing the ties that are active as “robust,” The Journal noted.
Mikati will not step down
Meanwhile, Lebanese Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati will not step down despite major difficulties facing his attempts to form a new government, a source close to Mikati told Daily Star on Monday.
Mikati’s position came in response to a threat by Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun to support another candidate to the premiership if Mikati failed to form the Cabinet.
The source declined to elaborate on the hurdles holding up the Cabinet’s formation. Asked to comment on Aoun’s hint at replacing Mikati, the source said: “Mikati will not step down, come what may.”
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah promised Mikati during their meeting last Tuesday to intercede with Aoun, whose tough demands for participation, including the key Interior Ministry portfolio have been largely blamed for blocking the government’s formation.
(Source: Agencies)