February 2, 2019
Washington DC: The American Mideast Coalition for Democracy took aim at Lebanese PM Saad al-Hariri for loading his cabinet with Hezbollah allies in the government he finally announced after 9 months of negotiations.
Gibran Bassil, the son-in-law of President Michel Aoun and an ally of Hezbollah, is to remain as foreign minister. The position of minister of defense has gone to Elias Bou Saab, also a Hezbollah ally. Likewise, Hezbollah friendly Ali Hassan Khalil will remain in charge of the finance ministry although the country is in severe financial trouble. Jamil Jabak will take over the health ministry for the first time. He is also a Hezbollah ally.
“It is clear that this cabinet formation signals the consolidation of power for Hezbollah, and thus Iran, in Lebanon,” said AMCD co-chair, Tom Harb. “This will pose significant challenges for the Trump administration.”
“At what point does Lebanon move from tentative friend to possible foe of the US?” asked AMCD co-chair John Hajjar. “Lebanon is quickly moving into the Iran-Russia-Assad camp in the Middle East. There is no doubt that if Hezbollah moves missile batteries within range of Israel, that America will back the Israeli response. At what point, then, does Lebanon itself become an enemy of America?”
AMCD calls on the US to send a strong warning to the Lebanese government which is now composed of a majority of Hezbollah supporters (70%). We are reminded of the 1980’s when Hezbollah took western hostages and put Lebanon at odds with western nations. We must never forget that Hezbollah was behind suicide bombing of the US Marines barracks in 1983. Hezbollah should be wiped out, not rewarded. The US should put pressure on Lebanon to implement UN Security Council Resolution 1559 which calls for all foreign militias in Lebanon, including Hezbollah, to disarm and disband – not to join and then dominate the government.
AMCD is also concerned that the State Department is sending the wrong message by issuing a statement of support for the new government. The Trump Administration should refuse to recognize a government which is so heavily controlled by a terrorist organization. And because Hezbollah is controlled by Iran, Iran is essentially controlling the government of Lebanon by proxy. Therefore, the US should not recognize this government.