Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Terrorist Suicide Bombings

Terrorist Suicide Bombings
Press Statement
Mark C. Toner
Deputy Department Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 28, 2016

The United States condemns in the strongest terms the two sets of terrorist suicide bombings against the people of the eastern border village of Qaa, Lebanon, on Monday, June 27. We offer our deepest condolences to the families of those killed and wish a speedy recovery to those injured in the attacks.
We support the ongoing efforts of the Lebanese Armed Forces to defend all of Lebanon's territory against terrorism and to protect the Lebanese people. We reiterate our strong commitment and continued support for Lebanon's security, stability, and sovereignty.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

CDA Jones Farewell Statement from the Serail

June 10, 2016
Good afternoon everybody. I've just had a very productive meeting with the Prime Minister and I wished him Ramadan Kareem and congratulated him on the successful completion of the municipal elections, which the United States views as very important for the restoration of democracy in Lebanon. Some people believe that the chances for electing a president have been improved as a result of the municipal elections. I'm not about to predict when that might be, but I do think that we see once again the value of elections and how they've rejuvenated the democratic spirit in the country. I think politicians should rethink their approach so that they appeal to the electorate better, more successfully. And I think they should realize that time is not always on your side. So yalla go elect a president and do not postpone parliamentary elections again. Let's never again have a postponement of parliamentary elections in Lebanon. I certainly hope there's not another one before there's another election.
Whether or not the president should be elected first or the parliament should be elected first is not of crucial importance to the United States. I don't know if there is a legal argument to be made one way or the other. I know opinions differ on this, but I do think that the important thing is to continue the process of electing a president and then holding parliamentary elections because parliamentary elections are not scheduled until next spring. I think we all agree that we don't want to wait that long for a president.
These are the kind of issues that I discussed with the prime minister, and they remain near and dear to my heart. Of course, I want to make it clear that this was a farewell call to the Prime Minister because Elizabeth Richard has been confirmed by the Senate on May 17th and she will be here to take over duties as soon as she finishes the administrative procedures she has to go through.
I will, of course, be leaving sometime towards the end of this week. But I wanted to just take this opportunity to thank the Lebanese people for their hospitality, their graciousness in receiving me. This has been, as you know, my second mandate in Lebanon and it's been a very fun ride for a little over seven months now, and I've enjoyed every minute of it. But all good things must come to an end, and I'm leaving with a bittersweet feeling in my heart. Bitter because I have to leave; my mandate is over and I didn't accomplish all the things that I set out to do. But I'm pleased that I got some things accomplished and I hope that the Lebanese people feel that I made a difference. But it's sweet because I know I'm being replaced by a very able diplomat. I don't think that President Obama could have nominated a more accomplished and professional foreign service officer to be your next ambassador to Lebanon.
I know that Ambassador Richard will continue the strong relationship between our countries, particularly with the security forces and the Lebanese Armed Forces. The stability of Lebanon is something that's very important to the United States. We seek to stabilize Lebanon by strengthening the legal institutions, not by trying to create some parallel structure. I think the Lebanese Armed Forces and its security services in general are stronger than they've ever been. They are more professional than they've ever been. And I think they respect human rights more. And I think that's largely the result of American training.
We know our equipment is valuable for Lebanon. I was out at the airbase this morning where we received a shipment of mapping equipment from the United States. It was such an amount of equipment we needed two C-17s to ship it to Lebanon. This equipment will make a difference in Lebanon's fight against the terrorists in Bekaa Valley and in Lebanon's ability to secure its borders. So I leave with some satisfaction that I have been a steward of growing strength in a relationship that is benefitting your country.
Thank you very much for hosting me as Ambassador and I look forward to returning one day as a private citizen.

Shaheen, Rubio Introduce Resolution Urging European Union to Designate Hizballah as Terrorist Organization

Shaheen, Rubio Introduce Resolution Urging European Union to Designate Hizballah as Terrorist Organization

**Resolution Also Urges European Union to Increase Pressure on the Organization to the Fullest Extent Possible**

June 6, 2016

(Washington D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) introduced a resolution urging the European Union (EU) to designate Hizballah in its entirety as a terrorist organization. Currently, the EU designates only Hizballah's so-called military wing as a terrorist organization. The resolution also urges the EU to increase pressure on the group through facilitating better cross-border cooperation between EU member countries to combat Hizballah, issuing arrest warrants against Hizballah members and active supporters, freezing Hizballah's assets in Europe, and prohibiting fundraising activities in support of Hizballah.

"Hizballah has blood on its hands and remains an ever-present threat to the security of our nation and our allies," said Senator Shaheen. "Hizballah has demonstrated through indiscriminate violence that it is a terrorist organization and should be broadly recognized as such by the international community. Our resolution urges our friends in the European Union to join us in applying this additional pressure on Hizballah's entire network."

"Hizballah is a terrorist organization and tool of Iran that threatens America's security and that of our allies in the Middle East, especially Israel," said Senator Rubio. "The sanctions against Hizballah that Senator Shaheen and I passed last year are starting to take effect, but we need the entire international community to speak with one voice and recognize Hizballah for what they are: terrorists. I encourage the European Union to make its position clear that Hizballah is a terrorist organization that won't be tolerated and that will actively work with the U.S. to choke off its financing."

Senators Shaheen and Rubio previously worked together to block financing to the terrorist organization through the "Hizballah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015," a bill sponsored by Shaheen and Rubio that was signed into law by President Obama.


Tuesday, June 07, 2016

CDA Jones Observes Latest U.S. Military Assistance Delivery

June 7, 2016
Chargé d'Affaires a.i. Ambassador Richard H. Jones visited Beirut Air Base this morning to witness the latest of the continuing deliveries of U.S. military assistance to the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).  Today, the United States provided sophisticated mapping equipment valued at more than $3.6 million that will improve the LAF's ability to plot Lebanon's terrain.  The detailed maps  produced by this equipment will enhance the LAF's operational planning capacity and ability to protect Lebanese troops as they continue to take decisive action against extremist elements along Lebanon's border.  
Today's delivery demonstrates America's sustained commitment to ensure the Lebanese Armed Forces has the support it needs to be the sole defender of Lebanese territory.   Major U.S. military assistance deliveries over the past year have included Huey II helicopters, Hellfire missiles, border surveillance equipment, and ammunition.  More deliveries to the LAF are coming soon, to include artillery systems, armored vehicles, tactical radios, and hundreds of thousands of rounds of additional ammunition.  The U.S. has provided Lebanon over $1.4 billion in security assistance since 2005