The United States intends to redirect $67 million in funding to armed forces in Lebanon

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Lebanon LebanonBecause more than half of Lebanon’s 6 million inhabitants are poor, the US plans to redirect $67 million in military aid to the country’s armed services. The US proposes to redirect $67 million in military aid to Lebanon’s armed forces to sustain military personnel as the country struggles with budgetary problems.

The State Department proposes to amend the substance of previously allocated foreign military aid for Lebanon to include “livelihood support” for members of the Lebanese military, according to a letter issued to Congress, citing economic and social upheaval. The notification to Congress, obtained by Reuters, stated that “livelihood support for (armed forces) members will increase their operational preparedness, decrease absenteeism, and therefore enable LAF members to continue fulfilling vital security responsibilities needed to stave off a further fall in stability.”

The United States is Lebanon’s largest foreign assistance provider. In October, US authorities stated that they will provide extra assistance. In Washington, the news was applauded. “I’m really glad to see the administration putting our security assistance dollars to Lebanon toward that goal,” Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said in a statement. “It is in the United States’ national security interest to help these servicemen make ends meet and continue supporting the Lebanese people.”

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Saad al-Hariri, a Sunni Muslim politician, announced his withdrawal from Lebanese politics this week, allowing the Shi’ite Hezbollah to consolidate its grip on the country. Hariri’s resignation ushers in a new era in Lebanon’s politics, which is ruled by a system of sectarian power-sharing, and adds to the instability in a country grappling with its worst financial crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

More over half of Lebanon’s population of 6 million people lives in poverty. According to the World Bank, it is one of the most severe modern depressions, with the currency plummeting by more than 90% and the financial system effectively crippled. Discontent has grown within the security forces as Lebanon’s currency has depreciated, lowering troops’ pay. Many people have taken up additional jobs, while others have resigned.

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