Published: Fri, July 28, 2017
World Media | By Shelia Harmon

Hariri Meets Trump: Lebanon's Stability, Economy My Sole Concern

Hariri Meets Trump: Lebanon's Stability, Economy My Sole Concern

The U.S. president also said Lebanon is winning the fight against the Islamic State group and others and that "ultimately you will win. we have great confidence in you". It also has taken in 1.5 million Syrian refugees, who now comprise about a quarter of its entire population.

On Tuesday, Hezbollah, a USA -designated foreign terrorist organization, announced it was on the verge of ousting the Sunni terrorists from the area, and it called on those surviving to surrender to avoid further bloodshed.

US President Donald Trump accused Syria's leader Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday of committing "horrible" crimes against humanity and vowed to prevent his regime from carrying out any more chemical attacks.

Hariri also said he felt the president understood continued support is important, even with the Trump administration's plans to slash USA foreign aid.

But Trump's claim that Lebanon was "on the front lines" in the fight against Hezbollah caused commentators to question the president's grasp of Lebanese politics.

While the US and its allies view the group as a terrorist outfit, Lebanon does not. If you look at our region today, whether in Syria, Iraq or all the countries around us there is instability and this is due to not having a consensus within the country to safeguard it. Its priorities certainly diverge from those of the US -it is an Iranian proxy force and has vowed to destroy Israel.

"Though these cuts have been proposed, we understand from our Washington meetings that they are not expected to happen in the case of assistance to the LAF", a source within Hariri's delegation told Al-Monitor.

There's only one problem: Hezbollah is in the Lebanese government.

Lebanon's military has received hundreds of millions of dollars in military assistance from the USA and Britain in recent years, as part of efforts to bolster Lebanon against a threat from militants across the Syrian border.

When asked about his position on the group, who has constantly faced USA sanctions and condemnation, Trump's responses were quite puzzling, to say the least.

The U.S. -Lebanon partnership remains vital, however.

The current draft state department budget calls for cuts in USA military assistance and analysts say Lebanon could be among the countries affected.

The International Rescue Committee said around 390 people, mostly Syrian women and children, escaped to Arsal so far, many of them visibly shaken.

"Our approach supporting the humanitarian needs of displaced Syrian citizens as close to their home country as possible is the best way to help most people", Trump said in the Rose Garden on Tuesday.

Hariri is likely to ask for USA financial aid to cope with the flood of Syrian refugees entering his country due to the civil war there.

An appeals court overturned that ban as well, but the Supreme Court allowed portions to go through, including a 50,000 cap on refugees allowed into the US - a number reached earlier this month, meaning many will be turned away.

Alec Siegel is a staff writer at Law Street Media. Baklava is his achilles heel.

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