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The United States has provided security assistance to Lebanon in various forms since the 1980s, and the program has expanded considerably in recent years. Since fiscal year 2007, the United States has provided more than $700 million in security assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Internal Security Forces (ISF) to increase the capacity of those forces to combat terrorism and secure Lebanon's borders against weapons smuggling to Hezbollah and other armed groups. U.S. security assistance is part of a broader assistance program designed to foster a stable and independent Lebanese government. Primary components of the assistance program include:
* More than $490 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) designed to support the LAF's implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions which, among other things, call for the disarmament of Hezbollah's militia and the establishment of a weapons-free zone south of the Litani River.
* More than $6 million in International Military and Education Training (IMET) training to reduce sectarianism in the LAF and develop the force as a unifying national institution.
* More than $117 million in Section 1206 funds to move rapidly vehicle spare parts, ammunition, and other basic supplies to the LAF.
* More than $100 million in support for the ISF for training, equipment and vehicles, community policing assistance, and communications.
In 2005, after the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon prompted Syrian withdrawal from Lebanese territory and brought an anti-Syrian and pro-Western government to power, the United States expanded a program of assistance to support that government. After the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, the United States refocused its policy toward building state institutions including the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF) to enable them to assert control over the entire territory of the country and fulfill the principals of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701. To that end, the Bush Administration requested and Congress appropriated an expanded program of security assistance to the LAF and ISF. The Obama Administration has maintained this commitment, requesting for FY2011 more than $132 million for the LAF and ISF.
For Congress, there are broader political questions about the purpose and potential limits of U.S. assistance to Lebanon. Some lawmakers are concerned that U.S. support will be channeled to Hezbollah, while others suggest that U.S. aid could be used against Israel. At the same time, U.S. leaders and some Members of Congress have questioned whether U.S. policy fully considers the political position of the Lebanese and their elected leaders on issues of national defense.
See also CRS Report R40054, Lebanon: Background and U.S. Relations, by Casey L. Addis.
Contents Background and Congressional Interest U.S. Security Assistance to Lebanon Details of U.S. Assistance to the LAF U.S. State Department-Administered Programs U.S. Defense Department-Administered Programs Details of U.S. Assistance to the ISF Issues for Congress How Effective is U.S. Security Assistance to Lebanon? Recent LAF Accomplishments Recent ISF Accomplishments Does U.S. Security Assistance Address Broader Policy Goals? The Integrity of the LAF Is It a Threat to Israel? Is It Deterring Hezbollah? Appendixes Appendix. Map of Lebanon
September 1, 2010
Background and Congressional Interest
Key issues facing U.S. policy makers and Members of Congress when considering U.S. security assistance in the context of U.S. policy toward Lebanon include:
* Assessing the effectiveness of U.S. assistance programs--Identifying the most urgent capabilities that are still lacking among the LAF and ISF and deciding whether to tailor pending assistance programs to create or improve them. Understanding the key political and organizational obstacles to the further expansion or improvement of Lebanon's security forces and developing strategies to overcome them.
* Assessing overall U.S. policy toward Lebanon--Prioritizing U.S. policy objectives in Lebanon including building state institutions, countering Sunni extremism, deterring Hezbollah, securing Lebanon's borders, limiting the influence of external actors on Lebanon's domestic political process, and mitigating the risk of instability in the Levant.
* Managing relations with other external actors--Preventing destabilizing actions by regional parties that could renew conflict. Limiting the threats against U.S. allies in the region, particularly Israel. Recognizing and seizing opportunities for the United States and its allies to influence the decisions of regional actors in support of U.S. objectives in Lebanon and the Levant.
In 2005, after the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon prompted Syrian withdrawal from Lebanese territory and brought an anti-Syrian and pro-Western government to power, the United States expanded a program of assistance to support that government. After the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, the United States refocused its policy toward building state institutions including the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF) (1) to enable them to fulfill the principals of U.N. Security Council Resolutions. (2) To that end, the Bush Administration requested and Congress appropriated an expanded program of security assistance to the LAF and ISF.
The Obama Administration and some Members of the 111th Congress have supported the continuation of this program. They hope that continued support will help secure Lebanon's borders against smuggling and, in particular, against the flow of weapons to Hezbollah and other non-state actors. Over the long term, U.S. officials hope that building the security apparatus of the Lebanese state will improve internal stability and public confidence in the LAF and ISF, creating political space for the Lebanese government to address more complex, politically sensitive issues ranging from political reform to developing a national defense strategy.
U.S. Security Assistance to Lebanon
The Bush Administration's 2006 request for increased U.S. military assistance to Lebanon marked the third time in the last 25 years that the United States sought to expand military cooperation with the Lebanese government. In the early 1980s, …