December 23, 2019
The Honorable Mike Pompeo
Secretary of State Department of State
2201 C St., NW
Washington, DC 20520
Ref: Lebanese protests, Ambassador Hale, PM Hassan Diab
Dear Mr. Secretary,
After two months of protests, the current Lebanese government has lost all legitimacy in the eyes of the people. The Lebanese economy continues its downward spiral under the current leadership and economic hardship helps to fuel the protests.
This instability has created new opportunities for the US to help shape a new government. Unfortunately, though we fully support the message he delivered, the optics of Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs David Hale meeting at the residence of prominent Hezbollah-ally Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil have caused hurt and frustration to those in the streets risking their lives for the sake of a free Lebanon.
We have fresh information that a campaign to intimidate and in some cases to terrorize activists is now underway. The Lebanese authorities must be sternly reminded that they have a duty to protect the protests and warned that they will be held accountable if activists come to harm.
We recommend that US aid only be given to fully-vetted NGOs in Lebanon and not be given through the Lebanese government. It would be better to not give any aid because it is ending up in the hands of our enemies.
Unsurprisingly, the Iran lobby is waging a pressure campaign in Washington against US policy toward Lebanon, which you are so clearly and forcefully articulating. Iran is working not only against US interests, but against the interests of the Lebanese and all freedom-loving people in the region.
Therefore, we urge you to issue a press release from Washington expressing concern about the incoming Prime Minister, Hassan Diab, as his nomination came from Hezbollah. In his past position as Minister of Education, he worked to implement Iran’s dictates over Lebanese education, a dangerous matter both for Lebanon and the US.
We also urge you to announce that no US aid, neither military nor humanitarian, will be allowed to go to Hezbollah entities, allies, or entities that are benefiting Hezbollah.
We also request that you meet with activists from the Lebanon Protests, who are now being subjected to harsh treatment by Lebanese security agencies acting on behalf of Hezbollah. We are ready and willing to assist you and the administration to reach out to these activists.
Tom Harb & John Hajjar