US Weapons to Lebanon Despite Hizbullah Closeness
With the dividing lines between Hizbullah and the Lebanese Armed Forces not altogether clear, the United States has delivered weapons and ammunition to Israel's northern neighbor and thereby possibly to its enemy.
The U.S. embassy in Lebanon announced last week that on April 2 it had delivered the first in a series of shipments of weapons and ammunition. The shipment included 1,000 M16A4 rifles, 10 missile launchers, 1,583 grenade launchers, and 538 sets of day/night binoculars and night-vision devices. It was stressed that the equipment would be supported with training provided by the U.S. government.
Lebanese Defense Minister Elias Murr visited Washington in February to discuss military cooperation, especially U.S. assistance to the LAF to fight terrorism.
A month ago, Minister Murr told Lebanese Al-Manar television that though he does not support integrating Hizbullah arms and forces within the LAF, “this does not mean we should offer Israel a favor [and disarm Hizbullah].”
Insinuating that the issue is not a matter of consensus, Murr said, “There are some [Lebanese] annoyed by [the existence of] Hizbullah’s arms, and I could be one of them” – but he acknowledged that Hizbullah’s weapons deter Israel. Murr is said to be one of the government ministers considered close to the President of Lebanon.
Al-Qaeda, for its part, apparently views the LAF and Hizbullah as working together – to help Israel. Lebanon’s Daily Star reported last week that Saleh al-Qaraawi, an Al-Qaeda member who is listed among Saudi Arabia’s 85 most wanted terrorists, spoke on the CNN Arabic news channel, accusing the Lebanese army, Hizbullah and the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL) of being traitors and of “working for the benefit of the Jews.”
Palestinian factions in Lebanon did not attribute much importance to the statements, saying they were media-motivated and based on anger that Al Qaeda-linked Fatah al-Islam lost a battle to the Lebanese Army.