Trump administration lifts hold on Lebanon security aid

Lebanese anti-government protesters wave the national flag in a march in Beirut

Lebanese anti-government protesters wave the national flag in a march in Beirut More

U.S. President Donald Trump's administration has lifted a "hold" on security aid for Lebanon, a congressional aide said on Monday, more than a month after it began withholding the money.

That's according to two congressional staffers and an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly to the matter.

Since the aid, known as Foreign Military Financing, supported the Lebanese Armed Forces' purchases of weapons that have to be purchased or built, the freeze did not delay anything that was ready for transfer, the aide added. The reason behind the holdup remains unclear despite members of Congress pressing the White House for an explanation, but there isn't any evidence anything shady was going on.

Lawmakers such as Rep. Eliot Engel, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Sen.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As with the Ukraine assistance, OMB did not explain the delay.

Not everyone in Congress loves the idea of sending aid to Lebanon, despite its approval from the national security community and the Defense Department.

The aid is meant to help counter Iran's influence in Lebanon, which is highlighted by the presence of the Iranian-supported Shiite Hezbollah movement in the government and the group's militias, officials have said.

Agency officials and national security experts said the aid, which covers the cost of US-made military equipment supplied to the Lebanese army, was crucial for pushing back against Iran and maintaining stability in the country. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, introduced a bill calling for the United States to withhold 20% of USA aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces, or LAF, until the military outfit could certify it was taking steps to cut ties with Hezbollah.

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