The US flew a plane full of military equipment to Lebanon yesterday in ongoing efforts to bolster the army’s capabilities.
A tweet from the US embassy in Beirut said the package included “night vision devices, radios and other equipment” and estimated its value at $14.3 million.
— U.S. Embassy Beirut (@usembassybeirut) April 16, 2019
Lebanon has received over $2.3 billion in military aid from the US since 2005.
The US sees the Lebanese army as the viable option to stem the military influence of Hezbollah in Lebanon. In 2005, Washington labelled the army the “sole, legitimate defender’ of the Lebanese people.
America considers Hezbollah, which holds 13 seats in the Lebanese parliament, a terrorist organisation.
This is not the first military aid package which the US has provided to Lebanon, earlier this month six drones were handed to Beirut, costing $11 million. This was in addition to the $16 million worth of laser-guided precision missiles delivered in February.
Last year, the Lebanese Air Force received a fleet of jets to add to their inventory.
In a press meeting with the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in March this year, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil spoke positively of the relationship between the two nations. “We thank the Americans for their assistance to the security institutions, to the Lebanese Armed Forces,” he said, also showing appreciation for the US’ assistance to “a large group of Lebanese communities”.
It is widely believed that the US support to the Lebanese armed forces is a response to Hezbollah’s growing military ability in the Levant.
Though not mentioning the Shia group by name, a State Department press release in 2018 says:
“Through our provision of fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, munitions, vehicles, and associated training, the Lebanese Armed Forces has greatly increased its capability as a fighting force against violent extremists.”
According to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)-run Tasnin news agency, a Hezbollah representative said Hassan Nasrallah has urged young Lebanese to go to Iran’s flood hit regions to assist.
“Currently, a significant number of young Lebanese are involved in relief operations across Iran,” said Sheik Daqiq, the representative of the Lebanese Hezbollah in Iran. “Many more are on their way to the flood-stricken regions in the country,”