Lebanon Is Fighting A Group That Has Seats In Its Government

by Garry Watts July 28, 2017, 0:10

Hariri was said to be looking for continued USA support for the Lebanese military, and plans by U.S. to tighten sanctions on the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. "We also approved the salary scale with all the reforms that were included", added the PM.

Donald Trump has raised eyebrows with his claim during a visit by the Lebanese prime minister that Beirut was in the frontline of the fight against Hezbollah - despite the movement's leading role in the government of Lebanon.

While the United States has condemned Hezbollah as a terrorist group, and Congress is considering stepping up sanctions, its political wing is the most powerful entity in Lebanon's deeply divided coalition government. And despite Trump's apparent confusion over Hezbollah, the "administration understand very well the position of Lebanon", Hariri said.

"We have an understanding with Hezbollah", Hariri said.

"Hizbullah is a menace to the Lebanese state, the Lebanese people and the entire region", Trump said at a joint press conference alongside Prime Minister Saad Hariri at the White House.

Describing Lebanon as a model for coexistence, the prime minister said: "In a region fraught with religious and sectarian violence, in a world where coexistence between Islam and Christianity is increasingly portrayed as impossible, Lebanon offers a model; a model of coexistence, of dialogue and of political solution". "And we would not like to see them in Syria", he said.

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"What will the Lebanese government do but rush to the US urging it to preserve its investment in that extraordinary partner in the war against terrorism, and to intervene to stop Israel from destroying the Lebanese state".

Solutions to the Syrian conflict such as the US-Russian brokered ceasefire in the country's southwest have to be given a chance to work, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said on Wednesday. And one of the things that we have made tremendous strides at is getting rid of ISIS.

At a press conference on Tuesday, following a private meeting with Hariri, Trump seemed to fundamentally misunderstand Hezbollah's role within Lebanon. Initially, it was reportedly limited to non-lethal aid and training; later leaks in the media indicated various weaponry was also supplied to groups considered moderate.

Hezbollah is deeply enmeshed in the Syrian civil war on the side of the Assad regime, and since Friday has been fighting alongside Assad's forces to dislodge members of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra (now calling itself Jabhat Fateh al-Sham) from the border area of Arsal.

The Lebanese PM said he discussed the proposed sanctions with Trump and will meet with United States lawmakers later this week.

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