Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ninth Anniversary of the Cedar Revolution

Anne W. Patterson
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs
U.S. Capitol
Washington, DC
April 28, 2014
Thank you. Distinguished Members of Congress, Ambassador Chedid , it is a pleasure to be here with you this evening, among so many distinguished Americans of Lebanese descent and other friends of Lebanon.
We are here this evening to recall the spirit of national pride and independence that brought hundreds of thousands of Lebanese to the streets of Beirut in 2005 in the extraordinary uprising we now call the Cedar Revolution. Lebanon's broadly democratic demand for change had been building during years of Syrian occupation, but was sparked by indignation over the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. At the time, such a broad outpouring of public sentiment against authoritarian rule was unusual, but the justifiable Lebanese demand for an end to an era of Syrian military occupation and political violence in the country also foreshadowed demands for change and accountability that we see today elsewhere across the region.
Regrettably, some of the shadows of 2005 have returned. Hizballah fighters have crossed from Lebanon to fight in the Syrian civil war on behalf of the Assad regime against the agreement of all Lebanese parties in the Baabda Declaration. The civil war there has spawned a new refugee crisis in Lebanon, and attracted terrorists from Syria into Lebanon. Extremist violence is rising and political assassinations have continued, as we saw in the murder of our friend Mohammad Chatah last December.
But the Lebanese people are strong in the face of such provocations, keeping alive the spirit of the Cedar Revolution. The country has a long tradition of political pluralism. We have a new, fully empowered government. The Lebanese can, should, and must choose their own leaders, and upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections are opportunities to do so. We urge that they go forward in accordance with the Lebanese constitution, on time, and free from foreign interference.
The United States and Lebanon have a long-standing partnership, and we will continue to support Lebanese efforts to build a stable, sovereign, independent, and prosperous country. We are committed to helping strengthen the institutions of the Lebanese state – including the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Internal Security Forces – to help them provide security for all Lebanese citizens, establish security on Lebanon's borders, including the one with Syria, and extend the state's authority to all corners of the country. Our support for Lebanon includes programs that aim to advance economic opportunities and strengthen civil society, and we have robust education programs, including the provision of scholarships to Lebanese students, to help prepare future generations of leaders. The United States supports the people of Lebanon in their desire to build a democratic government that respects universal rights.
The U.S. has contributed more than $340 million in humanitarian assistance to support the many Lebanese communities that are hosting refugees from the Syrian civil war. Ongoing American programs provide clean water and improved sanitation across Lebanon, vaccinate children across the country, and support Lebanese efforts to strengthen the quality and capacity of Lebanese public schools, where so many refugees from Syria have enrolled. The United States will meet the humanitarian call for assistance.
We also call on all Lebanese parties to respect the principles laid out in the Baabda Declaration, the Taif Accord, and UN Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701. And we are working with Lebanon's international friends, particularly the International Support Group, to provide practical support that buttresses the Lebanese people's own calls for an end to intervention in foreign conflicts, an end to the cycle of violence, and the seizing of the opportunity Lebanon has to have a government, a president and a parliament that can help them meet the many challenges Lebanon faces.
One of the enduring legacies of the Cedar Revolution is the call for accountability and justice for those who have committed heinous acts of violence. We will continue to support the Special Tribunal for Lebanon because we recognize the need for accountability and an end to impunity for those who use violence to advance their political ends. We must not forget that this attack also led to the deaths of 21 others; their families demand justice just as the nation of Lebanon did in the streets of Beirut nine years ago.
Ladies and gentlemen, the dream of the Cedar Revolution is only partially fulfilled. The United States will work with the people of Lebanon to win this fight for sovereignty, security and independence.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Ambassador Hale Reaffirms U.S. Commitment to the Lebanese Army at Humvee Handover Ceremony

April 2, 2014
Today U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale participated in a ceremony to mark the delivery of 176 High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicles (Humvees) and 300 M-60 Machine Gun units to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).  The M1123 Humvee is a versatile, technologically advanced vehicle capable of performing both combat and combat-support roles.  The vehicles are primarily used for troop and equipment movement, combat patrol, and employment of various weapon systems.   The M-60 provides both a defensive, such as base or site protection, and offensive capability in offensive operations.  To date, the U.S. has delivered a total of 1,287 Humvees to the LAF.  An additional 40 Humvees are scheduled to be delivered later this month.
Below are Ambassador Hale's remarks at the ceremony.
Good morning. 
I would like to start by extending the condolences of the United States of America to the victims of Saturday's attack against the Army checkpoint near Arsal.  The targeting of Lebanon's security forces is simply unacceptable.  These crimes are an attack not only on the institutions of the Lebanese state, but in fact on all Lebanese.  Our thoughts and our encouragement are with the brave personnel of the Army and of the Security Forces of Lebanon as they do their difficult and dangerous tasks today as we speak throughout Lebanon, including in places like Tripoli and Arsal.
These attacks reaffirm the importance of these institutions in upholding order and stability in Lebanon, and strengthen the resolve of the United States to support these institutions as the sole defenders of the Lebanese state.
The events of recent weeks are a stark reminder of the tough battle that Lebanon is fighting as it confronts terrorism, extremism, and unrest.  Many nations, including my own, have faced terrorism.  We know all too well the price paid for threats left unchecked and unanswered.  The many recent successes by the Lebanese Army in capturing and killing terrorists show that Lebanon is on the right path, and your leaders have the right strategy, and that you are succeeding in this fight against terrorism.  The United States is proud to stand with you, the people of Lebanon, its Army, and Security Forces in this fight.
However, to successfully fight and win against terrorism, an army must be properly equipped, trained, and supported by its allies.  It is for this reason that ceremonies like today's are so important.  These ceremonies demonstrate the commitment of the United States to the success of the Lebanese Army and security forces in their mission to provide security and stability throughout Lebanon. 
It's why we've assisted the Army and Internal Security Forces with over $1 billion since 2005.  Our support for the Lebanese Army is long standing, and in addition to weapons, includes training for Lebanese soldiers here in Lebanon and in the United States.
The weapons systems presented today represent the continuing partnership between the United States and Lebanon and our commitment to peace and security here.  These vehicles will enhance Army missions across Lebanon.  They are highly sought after throughout the world for their reliability, dependability, and ease of maintenance.  The Humvees add force protection to Army personnel as they conduct their missions.  The M-60s fill a critical need for machine guns as a crew-served weapon. 
Today, we reaffirm the enduring support of the United States for Lebanon, its people, its Army, and its institutions.  Through our assistance to the Army, the United States stands with the institutions of the Lebanese state in their battle against the adversaries of Lebanese peace, prosperity, and stability.
Thank you.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Diplomacy Amos Hochstein Visits Lebanon

April 1, 2014
Media Notice
For Immediate Release
Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Diplomacy Amos Hochstein visited Lebanon March 31 and April 1 and met with senior officials to discuss energy issues as well as the economic situation in Lebanon and the region.
DAS Hochstein met with President Michel Sleiman, Prime Minister Tamam Salam, Minister of Foreign Affairs Gibran Bassil, Minister of Energy and Water Arthur Nazarian, former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Mr. Ali Hamdan, advisor to Speaker Berri, and UN Special Representative to Lebanon Derek Plumbly.
In his meetings, DAS Hochstein shared ideas to support Lebanon's efforts to attract investment to its offshore energy prospects.
DAS Hochstein reaffirmed the support of the United States to Lebanon in its efforts to achieve economic growth and prosperity.