On Tuesday 20 July, US President Joe Biden served notice to Congress to extend the national emergency with respect to Lebanon beyond its initial termination date of 1 August 2021. In his letter, the US President specifically claims that “Iran’s continuing arms transfers to Hezbollah […] serve to undermine Lebanese sovereignty, contribute to political and economic instability in the region, and continue to constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.”
This marks the 14th consecutive year that the national emergency towards Lebanon is extended by the US government. First declared in 2007 during the administration of George W. Bush, the state of emergency cites “certain actors”, in particular Syria and Hezbollah, as “disrupting the rule of law” in Lebanon. The US alleges that this in turn threatens their own national security.
The news comes on the heels of a visit from the US Treasury Department to Beirut, with certain reports stating that Washington is prepared to impose heavier sanctions on the Lebanese government if any oil from Iran reaches their shores. Lebanon is currently going through a major political and economic crisis, described by the World Bank as possibly the worst in modern history, with the Lebanese lira losing more than 90 percent of its value in just two years, major protests taking place regularly against corruption in the political class, growing fuel shortages and with the capital still living the aftermath of last year’s devastating explosion at the Port of Beirut.