Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told Senate Wednesday that America should continue to fund the Lebanese army, despite concerns that Hezbollah’s growing influence in Lebanon may ultimately threate Israel.
“I believe still at this point that we should continue supporting the Lebanese armed forces,” said during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing. “I know that’s been the subject of some debate here in the Congress.”
Clinton said Wednesday that US support for Lebanon’s armed forces was in American and regional security interests. She said the army is professional and non-sectarian with a national presence. She said annual US funding of about $100 million to the armed forces is important to stability in Lebanon, particularly along its southern border with Israel.
The Lebanese army “cooperates with the United Nations mission in the south, to try to keep the peace there,” she said. “We worry that if the United States does not continue supporting the Lebanese armed forces, its capabilities will rapidly deteriorate, security in the south and along the border with Israel will be at risk.”
Some lawmakers are concerned that the military may be compromised by the rise of Hezbollah. Clinton said there was not yet any evidence that this had happened.