(Photo credit: AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File)
The US State Department has announced plans to reroute $67 million in ‘military assistance’ to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) in order to support the military as the country grapples with a severe financial meltdown.
In a notification sent to Congress, the State Department notified lawmakers of its intent to “change the content of previously appropriated foreign military funding for Lebanon to include livelihood support” for the LAF.
“Livelihood support for [LAF] members will strengthen their operational readiness, mitigate absenteeism, and thus enable LAF members to continue fulfilling key security functions needed to stave off a further decline in stability,” the notification goes on to add.
The move comes as discontent within the LAF continues to mount due to the economic crisis that has severely diminished the value of soldiers’ wages, with some reportedly taking extra jobs and many others having quit.
With this announcement, Washington has once more cemented itself as Lebanon’s biggest foreign aid donor.
In September of 2021, US President Biden approved a $47 million aid package for the LAF. This decision was made just months after Washington gave the LAF $120 million in purported aid.
“The US Department of State renewed its commitment to the [Lebanese Armed Forces] by announcing $120m in foreign military financing assistance to Lebanon,” the US embassy in Beirut said in May 2021.
In total, Washington provided $372m in ‘humanitarian assistance’ to Lebanon last year, according to official figures.
These multi-million dollar donations have strengthened the ties between the LAF and the US embassy in Beirut.
In November of last year, Arabic media sources leaked information saying that the US and other western powers “did not mind” postponing general elections set to take place in March, on condition that legislators name Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) Commander Joseph Aoun as the country’s next president.