US warns Lebanon over possible Iranian weapons donation

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Al-Akhbar Management

Lebanese army soldiers. (Photo: Marwan Tahtah)

Published Friday, October 10, 2014

The United States is trying to halt Iran’s military aid to Lebanon. In exchange for the continuous support of the US, Lebanon should commit to the US sanctions imposed on Iran which include not accepting any arms donations.

As soon as Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, announced last week that Iran will donate arms to the Lebanese army, the US immediately sent a stern warning to Lebanese officials.

The US’ message is crystal clear this time: accepting this “gift” could end all US aid to the Lebanese army.

The last time the US objected to a donation to the Lebanese army was a few years ago when former Minister of Defense Elias Murr and the March 14 alliance blocked a donation from the Russian government.

A source told Al-Akhbar that the US government threatened, directly and indirectly, to withhold all aid from the Lebanese army and to stop security cooperation if Lebanon breaches the sanctions against Iran and accepts the Iranian grant.

It was revealed to Al-Akhbar that the Lebanese cabinet has yet to inform the Lebanese army of these threats.

In addition to the US-imposed “red lines” regarding arming the Lebanese army, Al-Akhbar recently learned that Iran has sent a letter regarding the arms donation to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which was then transferred to Prime Minister Tammam Salam and the Ministry of Defense.

According to the letter, Iran is willing to offer TOW missiles with launchers designated for it, night vision binoculars, 120mm and 60mm mortar shells with ammunition, ammunition for T55 and T62 tanks, and Doshka machine-guns and ammunition.

The Iranians claim that the donation is in response to the Lebanese army’s dire need for support in its fight against radical militants. It comes after Lebanese troops fought deadly clashes in August with jihadists of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group and al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front in the border town of Ersal.

Minister of Defense Samir Moqbel is expected to visit Tehran on October 17 in order to further discuss the army’s needs and facilitate the delivery process. Moreover, the Lebanese Army commander General Jean Kahwagi will travel to Washington and then to Riyadh next week to discuss the Saudi grant for the Lebanese army.

In the US, Kahwagi will go over the recent $1 billion Saudi grant to the army and the different ways the US and Lebanon can cooperate in the fight against terrorism. Whereas in Saudi Arabia, he will discuss the previous $3 billion dollar Saudi grant, which was confirmed by the French defense minister only last Wednesday.

(Al-Akhbar)

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

Iran may be prevented from donating arms to Lebanon, nevertheless, its mere offer to help has helped Lebanon in getting free armament and more financial aids from others. Thank you, Iran

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