Lebanon: Background and U.S. Relations
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS WASHINGTON DC CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE
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Lebanon is a religiously diverse, democratic state transitioning toward independence after a ruinous civil war and the Syrian and Israeli occupations that followed. The United States and Lebanon have historically enjoyed a good relationship due in part to cultural and religious ties the democratic character of the state a large, Lebanese-American community in the United States and the pro-western orientation of Lebanon, particularly during the Cold War. Current U.S. concerns in Lebanon include strengthening the weak democratic institutions of the state, limiting the influence of Iran, Syria, and others in Lebanons political process, and disarming Hezbollah and other militant groups in Lebanon. Following Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon in 2005 and the war between Israel and Hezbollah in the summer of 2006, the Bush Administration requested and Congress appropriated a significant increase in U.S. assistance to Lebanon. Since 2006, U.S. assistance to Lebanon has topped 1 billion over three years, including for the first time over 600 million in U.S. security assistance for the Lebanese Armed Forces and Internal Security Forces of Lebanon. Several key issues in U.S.-Lebanon relations could potentially affect future U.S. assistance to Lebanon. A political agreement among Lebanese parties in May 2008, brokered by the Qatari government and the Arab League in Doha, ended 18 months of political stalemate. The period was marked by cabinet resignations, political assassinations, labor strikes, a war between Hezbollah and Israel, an insurrection by foreign and Palestinian militants, and the worst sectarian fighting since Lebanons 15-year civil war. Since then, sectarian violence continued in the northern city of Tripoli, where Sunni factions supported by Saudi Arabia and Alawite groups supported by Syria clashed and a series bombings targeted the Lebanese Armed Forces, raising concerns about a potential regional proxy war in Lebanon.
- Government and Political Science