Trump administration won't say why it's blocking aid to Lebanon

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The Trump administration is reportedly withholding $105 million from Lebanon but has not given Congress a reason for the decision.

The State Department informed Congress on Thursday that the Trump administration is holding back $105 million in security aid to Lebanon, Reuters reported.

That aid includes night-vision goggles and weapons to help Lebanon secure its border.

The hold comes two days after Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri resigned his post. Administration officials previously argued the aid was necessary to help Lebanon secure its border in a violent region, but there were also concerns about Hezbollah's influence in the Lebanese government.

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The United States has designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

One administration official worried that withdrawing U.S. aid would allow Russia to have more influence in the region.

Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued a statement on Thursday about the resignation of the Lebanese prime minister but did not mention the stalled military aid.

"As the country works through this challenging time, I'll continue working to strengthen the deep social, cultural, and economic ties linking our two nations," Engel said.

The Trump administration reportedly did not tell Congress why the aid was blocked, according to Reuters.

The news also comes in the midst of an impeachment inquiry focused on Donald Trump's efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rivals. Trump allegedly withheld $400 million in military aid to Ukraine on the condition that it investigate his 2020 election rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, and a long-debunked conspiracy about the Democratic National Committee servers.

Trump has repeatedly claimed there was no quid pro quo related to the withheld Ukraine aid. However, other administration officials have confirmed that such an arrangement did exist, including Trump's own acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney.

Mulvaney has since attempted to walk back his earlier confirmation of that quid pro quo.

Trump's foreign policy maneuvers have been heavily scrutinized in recent weeks, after he announced on Oct. 6 that U.S. troops would withdraw from northern Syria, Lebanon's neighbor. That announcement opened the door to a Turkish military invasion on Oct. 9 targeting the United States' Kurdish allies in the region.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces were allies with the United States in the war against ISIS and lost around 11,000 fighters in the process.

The Syrian government has subsequently partnered with Russia to protect its border with Turkey.

As a result of Trump's decision, hundreds of ISIS-aligned prisoners escaped, giving the terror group a chance to regroup and strengthen its forces.

Published with permission of The American Independent.