Monday, November 30, 2015

Thanksgiving Message to the Lebanese People

November 28, 2015
Ambassador Richard Jones,
Chargé d'Affaires, US Embassy

Thanksgiving is my favorite American holiday. It is a time to gather family and close friends to give thanks for all of our blessings. I am thankful this year to have the opportunity to return to Lebanon. Lebanon was my first assignment as Ambassador, and it will forever remain a special place in my heart. I love the warmth and hospitality of the Lebanese people. My recall to government service is not our standard operating procedure but clearly demonstrates Secretary Kerry's concern and commitment to Lebanon during these rocky times. Have no doubt -- America stands with you as Lebanon grapples with its interlocking security, political, humanitarian, and economic crises.

Thanksgiving is not an occasion for me to urge or prod the political class to restore government function, elect a president, or enact urgent economic reforms. Today, I wish to express my appreciation for the Lebanese people. The Herculean challenges facing Lebanon would have overwhelmed many other nations but Lebanon's strength in the face of adversity defies the rules and constraints of other countries.

I am thankful for the resilience and tolerance of the Lebanese people. The attacks on November 12 in Burj al-Baragheh were acts of cowardice by individuals who have no understanding of Islam and its message. I offer the American people's deepest condolences to the victims, the injured, and their families. In these attacks, Da'esh intended to sow terror, chaos, and sectarian discord in Lebanon. They failed miserably. The resilient Lebanese will not be cowed so easily, and rather than divide the Lebanese, it united them in unequivocal condemnation of these acts of brutality. The terrorists just don't understand how exceptional Lebanon is. Here the different confessions have come together to build something that is greater than the sum of its parts. The Lebanese model of democracy and peaceful coexistence cannot be torn down by Da'esh's bombs, bullets, and hateful propaganda.

I am also thankful for the men and women of the Lebanese Armed Forces and security services. Their duty and dedication to protecting their homeland is admirable, and we are proud to call them partners. One of my government's top priorities remains helping to build these institutions to protect the Lebanese people. In the aftermath of these barbaric attacks on innocent civilians, the response of the Lebanon security services was truly impressive. They quickly rolled up the terrorist network behind the attacks with world class efficiency, protecting Lebanon from its further violence. Moreover, the terrorists failed in their attempt to provoke the Lebanese into blind vengeance. Instead, the Lebanese government rightly sought justice in the most professional manner.

Resilience, tolerance, and justice unite the Lebanese. These strengths are the reason why Da'esh will never add a Lebanese province to its monstrous enterprise. These strengths have encouraged the United States to seek your partnership and offer assistance. And these strengths are the reason why I love Lebanon and am thankful to return here.

Happy Thanksgiving from the American people.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

President Obama’s Message to Prime Minister Salam On the Occasion of Lebanon’s Independence Day

On the occasion of the Lebanon's Independence Day, U.S. President Barak Obama sent Prime Minister Tammam Salam the following message:
Dear Mr. Prime Minister:
Please accept my sincere congratulations, as well as those of the American people, to you and the people of Lebanon on the anniversary of Lebanon's Independence.
November 22 was the day when all Lebanese leaders stood unified to create a democratic, prosperous, and sovereign country.
I also wish to extend my deepest condolences to you and the Lebanese people for the bombings that occurred on November 12 in Beirut.  This horrific attack highlights the critical challenges you face and why the United States will continue to support Lebanon's state security institutions. The United States has long supported Lebanon in its quest to achieve full sovereignty, security, and independence.  Our countries' close ties are never more apparent than when Lebanon is in need, as it is now, due to the spillover effects from the Syria conflict.  We are committed to Lebanon's stability, as demonstrated by our unwavering support and assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces and Internal Security Forces, as well as our ongoing humanitarian and development assistance.  It is with regret, however, that I note this is the second consecutive National Independence Day without an elected President of the Lebanese Republic.  For the sake of Lebanon's stability and security, now is the time for Lebanese leaders to act in the national interest and elect a president.
I am continually impressed by the Lebanese people's ability to overcome the challenges and adversity they face.  We are proud to be your partner in addressing Lebanon's security, humanitarian, and development challenges, and we will remain by your side in these endeavors.
Barak Obama

Thursday, November 19, 2015

AFCENT Commander Lt. General Brown Visits Lebanon

November 19, 2015
Lt. Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr., U.S. Central Command Combined Forces Air Component Commander and Air Forces Central commander, visited Lebanon on November 16-17 as part of a regional visit.  In Lebanon, Lt. Gen. Brown met with the Lebanese Armed Forces Commander General Jean Kahwagi.  In their meeting, they discussed security threats facing Lebanon, especially in the wake of the Burj al-Barajneh bombings.  General Brown reiterated America's sustained commitment to ensure that the Lebanese Armed Forces has the support it needs to be the sole defender of the Lebanese people and territory.  General Brown also visited his counterparts in the Lebanese Air Force, including the Commander of the LAF Air Force, Brigadier General Ghassan Chahine.  The two leaders discussed the continued modernization of the Lebanese Air Force.  Since 2004, America has provided over $1.3 billion dollars in security assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces, including both training and equipment.  

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

U/S Gottemoeller Visits LMAC Mine Detection Dog Facility

November 16, 2015
U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller visited Lebanon on November 12 for meetings on regional security, security cooperation, and humanitarian mine action. She met with Prime Minister Tamman Salam, Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, and Lebanese Army Commander General Jean Kahwagi.
As part of her visit, she also toured the Lebanese Mine Action Center's (LMAC) mine detection dog facilities at Hammana. The U.S. government supports a range of demining activities in Lebanon, including the Marshall Legacy Institute's Mine Detection Dog Partnership Program which has trained and delivered 32 dogs to the Lebanese Mine Action Center since 2001. The Under Secretary observed the work of a mine detection dog and her handler as they maneuvered through the LMAC training course and demonstrated evacuation procedures.
Following the demonstration, the Under Secretary Gottemoeller praised the work of the LMAC and highlighted America's continuing support for demining efforts in Lebanon:
"This program has been such an important success. It is due to of your work, the work of the dogs and their handlers, and the entire team here. Since 1993, [America] has provided $54 million dollars in funding for humanitarian mine action in Lebanon. It is an effort to which we are entirely committed. In 2015, we have an additional $2 million to spend on this program, and so we will be entirely with you and continuing to work with you and your beautiful dogs to carry out this important mission. So a very heartfelt thank you from me and the entire U.S. government."

Friday, November 13, 2015

Statement by NSC Spokesperson Ned Price on Today's Terrorist Attacks in Beirut, Lebanon

The White House
For Immediate Release 
November 12, 2015

The United States condemns in the strongest terms today's horrific terrorist attacks in Beirut, Lebanon that killed dozens and wounded hundreds more. We offer our deepest condolences to the families and other loved ones of those killed and injured in this violence. The United States will stand firm with the Government of Lebanon as it works to bring those responsible for this attack to justice.  Such acts of terror only reinforce our commitment to support the institutions of the Lebanese state, including the security services, to ensure a stable, sovereign, and secure Lebanon.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Terrorist Attack in Beirut, Lebanon

Press Statement
Mark C. Toner
Deputy Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
November 12, 2015

The United States strongly condemns today's terrorist attack on civilians in the Burj Barajneh neighborhood of Beirut, Lebanon. We extend our deepest condolences to the Lebanese people, particularly the families of the victims, and wish a swift recovery to the wounded.

Today's events are a troubling reminder of the tremendous challenges Lebanon still faces. Terrorism, such as today's attacks, seeks to undermine the freedom and security that the people of Lebanon have worked so hard to achieve. We fully support the Lebanese authorities as they conduct their investigation into this act of terror. The United States reaffirms its commitment to Lebanon's security, and will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Lebanon in confronting terrorism.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Chargé d’Affaires Ambassador Richard Jones’ Arrival in Lebanon

November 6, 2015
Embassy Beirut is pleased to announce the arrival of Ambassador Richard Jones, who has assumed the duties of Chargé d'Affaires ad interim at the U.S. Embassy in Beirut. Ambassador Jones will help fill a transition period until the nomination and confirmation of an ambassador.
Ambassador Jones has deep experience serving in the region, including as ambassador to Lebanon from 1996 to 1998. His return to Beirut and continued service underscores the priority that the United States places on its strong and enduring partnership with Lebanon at this critical time.
Below are his remarks as delivered at the Grand Serail today following his meeting with Prime Minster Tamman Salam.
Good afternoon, everyone. It is a real honor and a privilege for me to be back in Lebanon. I sincerely appreciate the warm welcome I have received since my return. While much has changed since my last stay, one key element remains the same: America's commitment to Lebanon and to our shared, democratic values.
I just finished meeting with Prime Minister Tammam Salam, and we discussed the many interlocking political, economic, security, and humanitarian challenges confronting Lebanon today. I told Prime Minister Salam that America will remain a steadfast partner as Lebanon responds to the threats presented by the spillover from the crisis in Syria. Much like my predecessor, during my tenure here, I will work tirelessly to ensure American assistance in the military, economic, and humanitarian spheres continues to help build a secure, prosperous, and stable Lebanon.
America's commitment to Lebanon's security is more than words. We have recently taken several concrete steps to demonstrate that pledge of support. As I discussed with the Prime Minister, just last weekend, the White House announced plans to further enhance our military assistance for Lebanon to help it defend its borders against violent extremism. This new, as yet unspecified, support is in addition to the recently announced $59 million increase in border security assistance and a doubling of our foreign military financing for Lebanon to $150 million next year. Lebanon has become the sixth largest annual recipient of U.S. foreign military financing in the world, and our assistance will continue to equip and modernize the Lebanese Armed Forces in order to bolster their ability to counter the extremist threat and to fulfill the LAF's responsibilities as the sole entity with the legitimacy and capacity to defend Lebanon's territory and its people.
Less well known, but equally as important, is America's civilian assistance to Lebanon. Through programs that bring clean water to the homes of thousands of Lebanese, improve access to high-quality education, and create new jobs, we are supporting a brighter future for Lebanon's people. As Lebanon copes with the massive influx of refugees fleeing the violence in Syria, America stands with Lebanon as the single largest donor of humanitarian assistance, helping to address the strains on Lebanon's economy, its social service providers, and its infrastructure. Since the start of the crisis in Syria, we have provided nearly $1 billion in humanitarian assistance to Lebanese host communities and organizations grappling with the influx of refugees into the country.
America has been and will continue to be generous. But domestic political stability cannot be bought or furnished from the outside. Lebanese political leaders need to come together now to find innovative compromises and Lebanese solutions to the challenges facing the country, so as to end the current political paralysis. In sum, the Cabinet, Parliament, and a new President need to get back to work for the benefit of the people they were or will be elected to serve. While these challenges require Lebanese solutions, please rest assured that America will stand by your side as you grapple with them.
Thank you very much.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Treasury Sanctions Hizballah Procurement Agents and Their Companies


Action Targets Hizballah Procurement in Support of Military Capabilities and Acts of Terrorism
WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury targeted significant Hizballah procurement facilitators responsible for providing material support to enhance the group's military and terrorist capabilities.  As part of today's action, Treasury designated Hizballah procurement agent Fadi Hussein Serhan, his company Vatech SARL, as well as Hizballah procurement agent Adel Mohamad Cherri and his company Le-Hua Electronics Field Co. Limited.  Treasury also designated two companies owned or controlled by Specially Designated Global Terrorist and Hizballah procurement agent Ali Zeaiter.  Treasury's action against these two individuals and four companies were taken pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224, which targets terrorists and those providing support to terrorists or acts of terrorism.  As a result of today's action, all assets of these individuals and companies that are under the jurisdiction of the United States or in the control of U.S. persons are frozen, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.
Today's action continues Treasury's ongoing efforts to target Hizballah and its supporters under E.O. 13224, which have recently included actions against a key Hizballah financial support network in Lebanon and Iraq, among numerous other designations. 
"Hizballah is a dangerous, destabilizing terrorist group, and Treasury is determined to maintain maximum pressure on this organization by targeting its many revenue streams," said Adam J. Szubin, Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.  "Today's action highlights Hizballah's exploitation of the commercial sector to support its military capabilities and facilitate acts of terrorism.  Treasury will pursue any individual or company providing support for this violent group."
Fadi Hussein Serhan and Vatech SARL
Fadi Hussein Serhan is being designated today for providing services to Hizballah.  Vatech SARL is being designated for being owned or controlled by Fadi Hussein Serhan.
Serhan is a Hizballah procurement agent and General Manager of Beirut-based company Vatech SARL, which he has used to purchase sensitive technology and equipment for Hizballah.  Serhan has purchased unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and accessories, and various electronic equipment from companies in United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.  
Adel Mohamad Cherri and Le-Hua Electronic Field Co.
Adel Mohamad Cherri is being designated today for providing services to Hizballah.  Le-Hua Electronic Field Co. Limited is being designated for being owned or controlled by Adel Mohamad Cherri.
Cherri is a Hizballah procurement agent who has purchased dual-use technology and equipment from suppliers in Asia on behalf of Hizballah.  Cherri has also facilitated Hizballah's efforts to procure a variety of electronics from China for transport to Yemen for use in improvised explosive devices by the Houthis, a group that has engaged in acts that directly or indirectly threaten the peace, security, or stability of Yemen.  
Le-Hua Electronic Field Co. Limited is a China-based company controlled by Adel Mohamad Cherri.
Aero Skyone Co. Limited and Labico SAL Offshore
Aero Skyone Co. Limited and Labico SAL Offshore are being designated today for being owned or controlled by Ali Zeaiter.  
Aero Skyone Co. Limited is a China-based front company created in 2013 and controlled by Hizballah procurement agent Ali Zeaiter. Zeaiter has used Aero Skyone Co. Limited. to procure engines and other UAV equipment from Europe and Asia for Hizballah.  Labico SAL Offshore is a Lebanon-based company owned by designated Hizballah procurement agent Ali Zeaiter.
Treasury designated Ali Zeaiter in July 2014 pursuant to E.O. 13224 for using the China-based subsidiary of Stars Group Holding, Stars International Ltd., to acquire a range of communications, electronics, and navigation equipment for Hizballah's use in UAVs and other projects.  Zeaiter relied on false end-user certificates, mislabeled air waybills, and other fraudulent methods to avoid export restrictions and otherwise conceal the fact that Hizballah was the ultimate end-user or beneficiary of these goods.
To see the identifying information pertaining to today's action, click here.