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Middle East Aflame
Lebanon Hoping for U.S. Arms Deal

Though the battle between ISIS and the Lebanese army in Arsal has quieted down (for now), Lebanon is gearing up for what could be a protracted conflict with the militant group. But the army is woefully undersupplied, especially with the sort of military tech needed to track and bombard militants from above. The country is set to receive $3 billion in French arms, financed by the Saudis, along with a direct grant of $1 billion from the Kingdom, but it is still looking for foreign and Arab partners to sell or donate the necessary equipment.

To that end, Lebanon hopes that the United States will supply it with arms just as we did Iraq, according to the Institute for Near East & Gulf Military Analysis, a think tank with offices in the U.S. and the UAE:

According to a senior Lebanese military official, the LAF is in bad need to close air support with effective precision weapons. “The only single asset the LAF possessed that could provide good reconnaissance with efficient air support was the one Cessna Caravan aircraft armed with Hellfire rockets,” said the military official. He noted that the US refused to make the second Cessna it gave the LAF Hellfire-capable. “We hope the US would speed up the delivery of 12 AT-6 close air support planes that it had promised the LAF,” the official added. [….]

But this still was not enough. The LAF needs better firepower and C4ISR assets. “The LAF’s aging T-55 (Russian) tanks broke down during the battle. Their guns misfired and engines died, which made the LAF heavily reliable on the only 10 M-60 tanks the US supplied the LAF with several years ago plus some M-48 tanks that are still operational. “We hope the US and the West would treat the LAF the same way it is treating the Iraqi Army which is fighting the same enemy: ISIS,” the official said. “We hope the U.S., France and other powers would expedite the sale and delivery of much needed precision weapons, attack aircrafts and defense systems to help the LAF which is now on the front line of defense against terrorism.” He noted that the Arsal battle was only “round one with ISIS” and it is only a matter of time before “round two starts.”

With ISIS settling in on Lebanon’s border, not far from U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Israel, the United States may find itself involved in yet another front of this war.

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  • Breif2

    “Lebanon hopes that the United States will supply it with arms just as we did Iraq”

    And my fear is that they will have a similar final recipient. I’m not advocating against the provision of weapons, but…

  • gabrielsyme

    We hope the US and the West would treat the LAF the same way it is treating the Iraqi Army which is fighting the same enemy: ISIS

    Right, but the Syrian Army, which is significantly more involved and effective against ISIS, must be destroyed. Can no-one see the incoherence of American policy in the region? If Obama wanted to guarantee an ISIS safe haven in Eastern Syria he could do no better than his model of supporting ISIS’ cobelligerents against the Syrian Army. The Free Syrian Army is apparently now even conducting joint operations in Lebanon with ISIS, destabilising yet another country.

    • B-Sabre

      The source regarding the FSA supporting the IS in the article you cite is a member of the Al-Nusra front, which is an Al Qaeda affiliate and I’m not sure I’d take their word on whether the sun rises in the east or not. And even if a “unit” or members of the FSA have supported IS in this action, it doesn’t mean that the whole FSA is behind them.

      • gabrielsyme

        Certainly there is a great deal of uncertainty in this as in most information about the internal actions of the Syrian rebellion. But that works in both directions- it makes it as difficult to know reliably if the FSA is operating within desired parameters as it is to confirm that they are not.

        More importantly, there appears to be a continual churn of allegiances, tactical alliances and fighters between and within groups. Armaments given to “reliable” FSA units are going to be shared with unreliable FSA units, and they might be traded or sold to allied militias and co-belligerents. Individual fighters or units may well continue to defect to al-Nusra or ISIS and take their weapons with them.

  • Jojo Jobxyzone

    But then the weapons would end up in the hands of Hizballah – another terrorist organization

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