Sources in the US Congress said Thursday that the warm formal welcome Lebanon has extended to Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has convinced key representatives in Congress to continue the freeze on military aid to Lebanon. Lebanese daily An-Nahar reported that Reps. Howard Berman and Nita Lowey – the respective chairs of the Foreign Relations Committee and Subcommittee on Foreign Appropriations – are now “vehemently” opposed to lifting the moratorium.
The freeze was initiated in August, after a Lebanese Army sniper targeted Israeli officers on the border between the countries, killing one top officer, Lt. Col. Dov Harari. Democratic representatives Lowey and Berman said they were holding up $100 million that had been approved for Lebanon's military but not yet spent. Berman said he was concerned that the aid for the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) will wind up being used by Hizbullah terrorist forces.
The congressmen are now reportedly angry not just over Ahmadinejad's visit to Lebanon but also by the fact that it began with the signing of 16 agreements for cooperation between Iran and Lebanon, including mutual assistance in the fields of energy and finance.
Nawwaf Moussawi, a senior Hizbullah leader and member of the Lebanese parliament, recently called on the Beirut government to forget about obtaining ”conditional” American military aid. He suggested the LAF look instead to Syria, Iran and countries like Russia and China for weapons and training.