Friday, June 29, 2018

Readout of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Dunford's Meeting with Commander, Lebanese Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Joseph Awn

Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Public Affairs
WASHINGTON--Readout of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Dunford's Meeting with Commander, Lebanese Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Joseph Awn
Joint Staff Spokesperson Col. Patrick S. Ryder provided the following readout:

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. spoke with the Commander, Lebanese Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Joseph Awn during a meeting today.

The two leaders discussed challenges and security concerns in the region, including combating terrorism. They also discussed continued U.S.-Lebanese military cooperation.

The partnership between the United States and Lebanon is a crucial element to peace and security in the Middle East region.

US and Lebanon Hold Joint Military Commission Meeting

June 27, 2018
News Release
Press Operations
Release No: NR-209-18


Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Robert Karem invited Gen. Joseph Aoun, commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces, to Washington, District of Columbia, to co-chair the U.S.-Lebanon Joint Military Commission on June 26-27.  

The two nations reaffirmed the partnership between our militaries and our shared objectives of maintaining regional stability and security, countering terrorism, and building the capabilities of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) as the sole defender of Lebanon's sovereignty.

In his opening remarks, Karem commended the LAF for its recent successes in maintaining security and stability within Lebanon and expanding its control of Lebanon's borders.  

In August 2017, the LAF launched its largest offensive in almost a decade and expelled the last strongholds of ISIS and al-Qa'ida from Lebanese territory.  The LAF also increased its presence throughout Lebanon, with a focus on increasing control over Lebanon's border with Syria. In Southern Lebanon, the LAF has increased joint border patrols with the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) peacekeeping mission.    

Since 2006, the United States has provided security assistance to the LAF, with a focus on transforming the LAF into an organization that is capable of executing complex military counter-terrorism operations, defending Lebanon's borders, fulfilling Lebanon's international obligations under U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701, and becoming the sole guarantor of Lebanon's security and sovereignty.  To this end, Karem announced a new package of assistance for the LAF to improve its mobility and logistics capabilities, including the procurement of 100 up-armored high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWV), logistics trucks, and associated communications equipment, ammunition, spare parts and training.

Karem's delegation included U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard and senior defense officials from U.S. Embassy Beirut, along with representatives from the Joint Staff, U.S. Central Command, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency and the Department of State.  

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The United States Delivers Four A-29 Super Tucano Aircrafts to the LAF

By U.S. Embassy Beirut | 13 June, 2018 |
Ambassador Elizabeth Richard spoke on Tuesday June 12 at the Hamat Air Base on the occasion of the delivery of four A-29 Super Tucano aircrafts to the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Good afternoon.  General Aoun, Major General Shreim, General Haykal, our brothers and sisters in the LAF and the air force and dear guests.

It is just great to be back at Hamat Air Base to mark another milestone in the remarkable development of the Lebanese Armed Forces as one of the most capable militaries in this region.

Finally, all six A-29 Super Tucanos are in Lebanon!  Congratulations to the Lebanese Armed Forces, the Lebanese Air Force, and all those who worked on this program over the last several years to make it a success, and I include here the representatives with us today from the United States Air Force, who were with you through the entire process.

As you know the first two A-29 Super Tucanos were delivered last October; this set of four aircrafts that arrived recently completes the delivery.

But that doesn't mean the program has ended—the US will continue to support the integration of the A29s into your capabilities over the coming years.

I am also pleased to honor the recently returned LAF pilots, among the best professionals in the region.  The LAF is recognized in the U.S. for the quality of the officers and soldiers it sends to our training and education programs.

Lebanese students routinely finish at the top of their classes, earning 'honor graduate' recognition.  The recently returned A-29 pilots and maintainers upheld this real high LAF standard, and our military is very proud to serve with them.

The acquisition of the A-29 Super Tucano, a new aviation platform featuring advanced technology, will transform an already-strong air power capability that has been a key part of the Lebanese Army's ability to defend this country.

The A-29 provides the LAF with precision guided munitions and advanced precision strike capability.  This is a game-changing acquisition that takes the LAF to the next level of combat capability.

With the A-29, the LAF will now be able to conduct joint combined arms maneuvers in all conditions, day and night, in a way that greatly reduces the risk of collateral damage and the danger to civilians.

Before long, I would like to note, we will be complementing the power of the A-29 aircraft with six MD-530G light attack scout helicopters.  We announced these last December when General Votel visited Lebanon.  This is a significant Air Force that we are building together.

As demonstrated in the LAF's "Dawn of the Hills" operation last August, the Lebanese people can trust the LAF to achieve national strategic objectives and defend the country.

I'd like to also say, today is also another reminder of the strong bond between the U.S. and Lebanon.  Over the last decade, the U.S. government has invested over $1.5 billion in training and equipment, and we have trained over 32,000 Lebanese troops.  We will continue this partnership and support to the Government of Lebanon and to the Army.

I would like to highlight one very important point here.  For all militaries, including our own, the process of planning for, acquiring, and sustaining the capabilities needed to accomplish the mission is a long-term strategic endeavor.

Let me take a moment to salute all the former Army and Air Force officers – and some of them with us today – who understood that a modern armed force is not built through one-time, short fuse equipment donations or purchases.

Real capability is built over time, through thoughtful analysis of the threats, and careful planning and design of the Lebanese Army of the future.  None of what you see here today, and frankly, none of the great successes of the Dawn of the Hills battle, would have been possible without the dedication and the foresight of all those officers and non-commissioned officers who came before us.

We are very, very proud General Aoun, General Haykal, General Shreim, to be your partners.  Thank everyone for being here with us today.

Saturday, June 02, 2018

Lynch Lays Wreath at Beirut Memorial to Honor U.S. Servicemembers Killed in Lebanon

Jun 1, 2018
BEIRUT—On Wednesday Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-Boston) laid a wreath at the Beirut Memorial at the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon to honor the 241 American servicemembers, including 220 U.S. Marines, 18 sailors, and 3 Army soldiers, who were killed in the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings. The memorial honors American servicemembers and diplomats who have lost their lives while serving in Lebanon. 

"In the midst of violence and civil war, brave American servicemembers and diplomats came to Lebanon to promote peace. We still mourn our brothers and sisters and sons and daughters who did not return home," said Lynch. "It was an honor to stand alongside the men and women who are currently serving in Lebanon, including the U.S. Marine detachment from the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, to remember those who were taken from us as they sought peace here and throughout the Middle East."

The Beirut barracks bombings in 1983 were the deadliest single-day attack on U.S. Marines since the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II. Earlier that year, 63 people were killed in an attack on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, and in 1984, 24 people were killed in an attack on the U.S. Embassy annex in Aukar. The Beirut Memorial honors hundreds of American military, intelligence, and diplomatic personnel killed in these and other incidents in Lebanon.

U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), and the U.S. Marine Corps contingent stationed at the U.S. Embassy also participated in the wreath-laying ceremony at the Beirut Memorial. Lynch's visit to the memorial came during a week-long congressional delegation to the Middle East that included trips to Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt, and the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

The panel's experts on Lebanon dismissed the mainstream narrative that the May 6 election results were a major coup for Hezbollah. Paul Salem, MEI's senior vice president for policy research and programs, said Hezbollah and its coalition, which won roughly 40 of 128 seats, certainly performed well, but that their gains were not large enough to dramatically alter the status quo. He predicted Prime Minister Saad Hariri and President Michel Aoun would remain in their positions.

Salem also noted that the results indicate Sunnis and Christians are becoming somewhat more critical of Hezbollah, a Shi'i group. The Lebanese Forces, a Christian party opposed to Hezbollah, performed better than expected, winning 15 seats, he pointed out, while the Free Patriotic Movement, a Christian party led by President Aoun that has positive relations with Hezbollah, underperformed, securing 23 seats. Prime Minister Hariri's Sunni Future Movement also performed poorly, winning 20 seats. 

Salem believes some Lebanese Christians and Sunnis are displeased with Hariri and Aoun's accommodating approach toward Hezbollah. "Hariri may be feeling that he needs to pivot a bit away from his Aounist-Hezbollah positioning," Salem commented. He added that, longer-term, Hezbollah is likely concerned that this sentiment could lead to the group eventually losing influence with leaders of the Christian and Sunni communities. 

MEI senior fellow Bilal Saab agreed with this assessment. "Moving forward, Hezbollah is going to be worried about having two understandings with major figures in the next government—Michel Aoun and Saad Hariri—whose own support bases may have difficulties with the policies they pursue," he stated

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

U.S. Senator Cory Booker Leads Congressional Delegation in Visit to Lebanon

By U.S. Embassy Beirut | 29 May, 2018 
U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) led a Congressional delegation that concluded a one-day visit to Lebanon on Monday.  The delegation's meetings with Prime Minister Hariri, Lebanese Armed Forces Commander General Joseph Aoun, and UNIFIL Deputy Head of Mission Imran Riza focused on security cooperation between the United States and Lebanon.  The delegation also visited the Bekaa Valley, where they met with local officials and beneficiaries of a USAID water project in Rassieh.

The Rassieh water facility operated by the Bekaa Water Establishment (BWE) comprises of a Pump Station and Water Treatment Plant that treats and pumps 320m³ of drinking water per hour, to approximately 28,580 people in the city of Zahle. USAID, under a previous project, upgraded the facility's water testing laboratory including rehabilitation of the building, provision of equipment, and training of technicians.  Today, USAID is continuing to provide assistance to BWE under the Lebanon Water Project (LWP). USAID's assistance has helped and continues to help BWE improve the water supply service for citizens throughout Zahleh and the Bekaa region.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Remarks by Ambassador Elizabeth Richards Opening of the Ashrafieh Police Station

Minister Mashnouk, Minister Pharaon, Director General Osman, it's very nice to see you here today, everyone, all our friends and colleagues, especially those who will be working in this very building.  It gives me great pleasure to join you this morning for the re-opening of the Ashrafieh Community Police Station.

This location represents much more than the opening of another police station.  The Ashrafieh Community Police Station represents a new Community Policing model for the ISF.  The importance of Community Policing is that it is built on a foundation of police and local citizens working together to maintain and improve safety and security.  The key here is effective cooperation between the police and the citizens, with an emphasis on both sides on public service.

The police alone cannot assure public safety.  However, when communities and police work together, they can counter crime, reduce violence, and stamp out terrorism.  I look forward to this Community Policing Station becoming a model of public service, where the role of each and every police officer, and the public service they provide, is highlighted.  We know that the ISF works tirelessly every day throughout the year, to help keep Lebanon safe and they need your help.

The United States is very proud of the efforts that we have spent to assist the ISF over the years.  Since 2008, the State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) has provided training for thousands of ISF officers, providing  over $178 million in support  to the ISF, one of our closest partners here in Lebanon.  This is just one part of the over $5.4 that we have invested in Lebanon over the past ten years.  We are proud of the strong and successful partnership we have with Lebanon and with the ISF, and of what we have achieved together.

This building is an excellent example of that success: a modern police station, accessible to the public, and staffed by officers who are trained to work cooperatively with the local community to counter crime and promote safety.

I want to congratulate the ISF and the Ministry of Interior on launching this project, and on their focus on Community Policing.  I really look forward to the great work you are going to do for all of us as you accomplish everything that you've set out to do through these efforts.  We are proud to help support this important work.

Thank you!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

U.S. Security Cooperation With Lebanon

Fact Sheet
May 11, 2018

The United States and Lebanon share the goal of building the Lebanese Armed Forces' (LAF) capacity as the sole legitimate defender of Lebanon's sovereignty. Lebanon's state security institutions, particularly the LAF, have historically served as pillars of stability in a country facing extraordinary challenges.

U.S. assistance for the LAF is a key component of our policy to reinforce Lebanon's sovereignty and secure its borders, counter internal threats, and build up its legitimate state institutions. Additionally, U.S. security assistance supports implementation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1559, 1680, and 1701, and promotes the LAF's ability to extend full governmental control throughout the country in conjunction with the UN Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

  • The United States is Lebanon's top security partner and, since 2006, our more than $1.7 billion investment in the LAF has paid significant dividends for U.S. interests in the Middle East. Over the last 12 months, the LAF has defeated ISIS in Lebanon, reasserted control over Lebanese territory along its border with Syria, and increased its presence in southern Lebanon in support of UNIFIL.
  • In FY 2017, the United States provided over $235 million in combined Department of State and Department of Defense (DoD) security assistance. This includes $121 million in Foreign Military Financing and $2.75 million in International Military Education and Training (IMET) and $112 million in DoD-authorized funding.
  • Since 2006, Lebanon has received $25 million in IMET support, which has funded U.S.-instructed training for over 946 members of the LAF, including 110 members in CY 2017. IMET provides professional military education and training to military students to increase professionalism, enhance interoperability, and grow lasting military-to-military relationships.
  • Since the August 2014 attack in Arsal by ISIS and the Al Nusra Front, the United States has supported the LAF with munitions, weapons, and equipment to help the LAF keep the country's borders secure and conduct counterterrorism operations. The Departments of State and Defense continue to work closely to support the provision of training and equipment that Lebanon needs, including fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, vehicles, arms, and munitions. We applaud the LAF for its resolve in confronting violent extremists and will support its ongoing efforts as it combats this shared threat and protects the Lebanese people.
  • To mitigate the risk of unauthorized transfer or use of U.S. technology and equipment, the United States conducts end-use monitoring (EUM) of its security assistance programs around the world, including in Lebanon. EUM is used to verify the end-use, accountability, and security of defense articles, services, and training provided under Foreign Military Sales and other grant-based assistance programs, from delivery through use to their eventual disposal. In Lebanon, the LAF continues to successfully coordinate with the U.S. government to ensure compliance with all its security requirements and remains a valued partner in the fight against ISIS and other violent extremists.
  • Lebanon also receives assistance through Department of Defense authorities, which further bolster partner nation militaries' counter-terrorism and border-protection capabilities. These authorities include, among others, "Building Partner Capacity" funding and assistance specific to border security operations. Congress has legislated critical State Department coordination, concurrence, and joint planning and development roles in these authorities.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Treasury Targets Key Hizballah Financing Network and Iranian Conduit

MAY 17, 2018

Action disrupts Hizballah's global business empire in Europe, Africa, and Middle East


Washington – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Hizballah financier Mohammad Ibrahim Bazzi and Hizballah's representative to Iran Abdallah Safi-Al-Din as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.  Also designated today as SDGTs are five companies located in Europe, West Africa, and the Middle East for being owned or controlled by Mohammad Bazzi and another SDGT.  Specifically, OFAC designated Belgian energy services conglomerate, Global Trading Group NV; a Gambia-based petroleum and petroleum products company, Euro African Group LTD; and Lebanon-based Africa Middle East Investment Holding SAL, Premier Investment Group SAL Offshore; and Car Escort Services S.A.L. Off Shore (CES), an import/export  company based in Lebanon.  This is the third action in the past week in which OFAC has designated terrorists with a connection to the Central Bank of Iran.

"This action highlights the duplicity and disgraceful conduct of Hizballah and its Iranian backers.  Despite Nasrallah's claims, Hizballah uses financiers like Bazzi who are tied to drug dealers, and who launder money to fund terrorism," said Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin.  "The savage and depraved acts of one of Hizballah's most prominent financiers cannot be tolerated.  This Administration will expose and disrupt Hizballah and Iranian terror networks at every turn, including those with ties to the Central Bank of Iran."

As a result of today's action, all property and interests in property of these persons that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons must be blocked and reported to OFAC.  OFAC's regulations generally prohibit all dealings by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of blocked or designated persons.

Today's actions show the convergence of Iran's support for terrorism with many facets of illicit criminal activity, including narcotics trafficking.  In addition to providing millions of dollars to Hizballah, Mohammad Bazzi is a close associate of Yahya Jammeh, the corrupt former leader of The Gambia who, in addition to ordering targeted assassinations, plundered The Gambia's state coffers for his personal gain.  In addition, Bazzi has business ties to the Ayman Joumaa Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering Organization.  As Hizballah's chief benefactor, Iran is complicit in the despicable behavior of Bazzi.  Specifically, Abdallah Safi-Al-Din, Hizballah's representative to Iran and cousin of Hasan Nasrallah, Hizballah's Secretary General, worked with Bazzi to reestablish a political relationship between The Gambia and Iran.  Moreover, Bazzi and Safi-Al-Din previously worked with the Central Bank of Iran, which OFAC recently identified as being complicit in facilitating the IRGC-QF's access to hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. currency, to expand banking access between Iran and Lebanon.

These designations by OFAC follow President Trump's decision last week to cease U.S. participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, and to begin reimposing U.S. nuclear-related sanctions on the Iranian regime.  They are in furtherance of the goal of addressing the totality of Iran's malign activities and regionally destabilizing behavior, including that of Hizballah.  These designations complement the disruptive action Treasury took last week to shut down an extensive currency exchange network in Iran and the UAE that was transferring millions to Iran's IRGC-QF.  This action is also in addition to two other actions taken this week targeting IRGC-QF and Hizballah financing, including an action against Iran's Central Bank Governor and an action taken with Terrorist Financing Targeting Center partners designating Hizballah's Shura Council and other leaders and financiers.  Today's actions further restrict Hizballah's access to the U.S. financial system and the Iranian regime's network of regional proxy groups.


Mohammad Ibrahim Bazzi (Bazzi) was designated for assisting in, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or financial or other services to or in support of, Hizballah. 

Bazzi, who operates or transacts in or through Belgium, Lebanon, Iraq, and several countries in West Africa, is a key Hizballah financier who has provided Hizballah financial assistance for many years and has provided millions of dollars to Hizballah generated from his business activities.  

Bazzi maintains ties to Hizballah financiers Adham Tabaja (Tabaja) and Ali Youssef Charara (Charara), whom OFAC designated as SDGTs for providing material support to Hizballah on June 10, 2015 and January 7, 2016, respectively.  Between 2009 and 2010, Abdallah Safi-Al-Din, also designated today, and Bazzi worked with the Central Bank of Iran to expand banking access between Iran and Lebanon.  Abdallah Safi-Al-Din was previously identified by Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) as being involved in Iranian officials' access to former Lebanese Canadian Bank (LCB), which FinCEN identified on February 10, 2011 as a financial institution of primary money laundering concern under Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act for the bank's role in facilitating the money laundering activities of an international narcotics trafficking and money laundering network. 

In addition to providing millions of dollars to Hizballah, Mohammad Bazzi is a close associate of Yahya Jammeh who was identified on December 20, 2017, in the annex to E.O. 13818, which implemented the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.  Further, Bazzi has business ties to the Ayman Joumaa Drug Trafficking and Money Laundering Organization, which OFAC designated on January 26, 2011 pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.  Bazzi also worked to provide funds to Tabaja, with whom he held a joint line of credit. 


Abdallah Safi-Al-Din (Safi Al-Din) was designated for acting for or on behalf of Hizballah.  Safi Al-Din is Hizballah's representative to Iran and acts as a conduit between Iran and Hizballah.  He has also has served as the interlocutor between Hizballah and Iran on financial issues.  As of 2011, Safi-Al-Din and Bazzi worked together to resolve a dispute between Iran and The Gambia and reestablish a political relationship between the two countries.  Safi-Al-Din is the cousin of Hizballah's Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah (Nasrallah), whom OFAC designated pursuant to E.O. 13224 on May 16, 2018, E.O. 13582 on September 13, 2012, and also pursuant to E.O. 12947 on January 23, 1995. 





Global Trading Group NV (GTG) was designated for being owned or controlled by Bazzi.  Bazzi is one of the founders and a Managing Director of GTG, a global energy products and services company headquartered in Antwerp, Belgium that also has locations in Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Ivory Coast, and Benin.  As of 2015, Bazzi, as an owner of GTG, had drafted two securities totaling approximately $1 million to operate and maintain two power plants in Lebanon. 


Euro African Group LTD (EAGL) was designated for being owned or controlled by Bazzi.  Bazzi is the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director and majority shareholder of EAGL, a petroleum and petroleum products company located in Banjul, The Gambia.  GTG, in collaboration with EAGL, claims to have been the exclusive importer of all fuel products into The Gambia since 2003.


Africa Middle East Investment Holding SAL (AME Investment) was designated for being owned or controlled by Bazzi.  Bazzi is the Chairman, Managing Director, and majority shareholder of AME Investment, a holding company located in Beirut, Lebanon.    


Premier Investment Group SAL Offshore (PIG Offshore) was designated for being owned or controlled by Bazzi.  Bazzi is the founder, Chairman, Managing Director, and majority shareholder of PIG Offshore, a financial services company in Beirut, Lebanon. 


Car Escort Services S.A.L. Off Shore (CES), an import/export company based in Lebanon, was designated for being owned or controlled by Bazzi and Charara, who collectively own two-thirds of the company. 

These five companies should not be viewed as an exhaustive list of companies owned or controlled by Bazzi, and the regulated community remains responsible for conducting necessary due diligence and maintaining compliance with OFAC's 50 percent rule.

Each of the two individuals and five entities designated today are subject to secondary sanctions pursuant to the Hizballah Financial Sanctions Regulations, which implements the Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015.  Pursuant to this authority, OFAC can prohibit or impose strict conditions on the opening or maintaining in the United States of a correspondent account or a payable-through account by a foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant transaction for Hizballah, or a person acting on behalf of or at the direction of, or owned or controlled by, Hizballah.

Hizballah was designated by the Department of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in October 1997 and as an SDGT pursuant to E.O. 13224 in October 2001.  It was listed in January 1995 in the Annex to E.O. 12947, which targets terrorists who threaten to disrupt the Middle East peace process, and also designated in August 2012 pursuant to E.O. 13582, which targets the Government of Syria and its supporters. 

Today's action was conducted in coordination with several U.S. partners, including the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Special Operations Division's Counter-Narcoterrorism Operations Center (CNTOC) and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's National Targeting Center (NTC).

A network chart on the individuals and entities designated today.

Identifying information on the individuals and entities designated today.