The money for the Lebanese Armed Forces had languished in the Office of Management and Budget since September even after it won congressional approval.
Lebanese marine special forces soldiers march during a military parade to mark the 76th anniversary of Lebanon’s independence from France last month. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar)
Prime Minister Saad Hariri was forced to resign last month over the mass demonstrations.
The funds were released just before the Thanksgiving holiday and lawmakers were notified on Monday, The Associated Press reported. The White House has not explained the reason for the delay.
The withholding of foreign aid by the White House has become a central focus of House Democrats’ impeachment efforts in recent weeks. They allege that Trump withheld $400 million in military aid for Ukraine until that country’s government opened an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden, his son Hunter and Hunter’s actions while on the board of natural gas company Burisma Holdings.
David Hale, the No. 3 official in the State Department brought up the aid to Lebanon while testifying in an impeachment hearing last month, saying diplomats had growing concerns about the delay.
Some Democratic lawmakers pressed the White House for an explanation last month for a reason for the delay.
Lebanese protesters wave their national flag, as they march in Beirut, Lebanon on Sunday. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
The State Department called on Lebanon to use the money to rein in corruption and implement economic reforms.
The aid is intended to counter Iran‘s growing influence in Lebanon, which is home to Hezbollah, a Shiite militant and political party aligned with Iran. The U.S. has designated the group as a foreign terrorist organization.
The national security community believes the aid will be used to purchase U.S.-made military equipment for the Lebanese army.