Ambassador Edward Gabriel, head of the American Task Force for Lebanon, revealed new American aid planned for the Lebanese army, noting that they had heard from the American side that the Lebanese army would receive 120 million dollars this year and an additional 100 million dollars to contribute to the care of the families of army members, explaining that “The file of 120 million dollars is on the table this week and the 100 million dollars maybe in the near future,” saying: “We are also waiting for additional aid in the coming weeks and it will depend on the approval of Congress.” For the coming year, Gabriel revealed that “160 million dollars are allocated in the budget to the Lebanese army and perhaps more than 200 million dollars for humanitarian aid.”
Gabriel continued: “We are working with the French and other countries to increase this aid. The Lebanese army is the only remaining institution that works efficiently in Lebanon. Let us keep it in this way.” He said, “General Joseph Aoun is a great leader and has a good team with him leading this institution, and we thank God that he was able to work and do his duty away from the influence of politicians who have their own interests.”
In the field of humanitarian aid as well, Gabriel hoped, within the “Lebanese Scene” program, which will be shown this evening on the “Al-Hurra” channel with the journalist Layal Al-Akhbar, to secure more such aid, pointing out that it will be through civil society organizations in Lebanon and directly, believing that America will be The donor or major donor, we hope to announce this in the coming weeks and months.
Regarding the “carrot and stick” policy towards Lebanese officials, Gabriel announced that the international community would grant billions of dollars to Lebanon if its officials facilitated the formation of a government that responds to the needs of the Lebanese people, saying: “They were offered more than 11 billion dollars, not only in conferences but from the IMF. The international community, but this carrot has not yet been accepted, so the result is that governments are now imposing sanctions, and that is on the basis that we gave you the carrot and you did not respond, so you will get the stick.”
In response to a question about reports that talk about efforts by some to lift sanctions against the head of the Free Patriotic Movement, Gebran Bassil, Gabriel said: “I listened to these reports, and I have not seen any evidence of that until now, that the United States will not be affected by these efforts to lift sanctions on individuals. This is not going to happen. I don’t know if the reports are true or not, but those who think they can pressure the United States to lift sanctions are laughing at themselves.”
In another context, Gabriel stressed working to keep Lebanon a priority for President Biden’s administration and that Congress is interested in this matter, and said: “The American ambassador, Dorothy Shea, who was in Washington in the past two weeks, made it clear that she was surprised by the attention that Lebanon received.”