Press Release: US Congressmen Reaffirm Support for Lebanon if Reforms are Forthcoming
Washington, DC, November 23, 2021 (ATFL) – United States Congressmen Darin LaHood, Darrell Issa, and Dan Kildee, spent three days in Lebanon accompanied by Ed Gabriel, the President of the American Task Force on Lebanon (ATFL), which sponsored the trip.
Joined by Dorothy Shea, the United States Ambassador to Lebanon, the delegation met with the senior leadership in the present government including President General Michel Aoun, Prime Minister Najib Mikati, and Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri. The delegation also met with Minister of Interior Bassam Mawlawi, Minister of Finance Youssef Khalil, Minister of Economy and Trade Amin Salam, and Deputy Prime Minister Saadeh al-Shami.
To gain a fuller understanding of the security concerns in Lebanon, the delegation were received by General Joseph Aoun of the LAF and General Imad Osman of the Internal Security Forces, and visited with the UNSCOL Country Director Joanna Wronecka, the UN team in Lebanon, and General Stefano Del Col of UNIFIL.
As part of their concern with the upcoming parliamentary elections, the Congressmen met with former and current parliamentarians, civil society organizations mobilizing for the 2022 elections, and opposition groups.
The purpose of the visit was to receive an update on the situation in Lebanon with particular attention to the reform agenda of the government, security and transparency for the upcoming elections, US assistance to the people of Lebanon and the LAF/ISF forces and their families, explore ways to collaborate with government in support of an IMF program and other donors to reignite the economy, move to end corruption, and strengthen the Lebanese currency as well as enforcing Lebanon’s education and healthcare systems.
In various meetings, the Congressmen reinforced the US concern with Lebanon’s stability and security. Representative LaHood remarked that “The United States is seeking a sovereign, independent, and prosperous Lebanon,” and, addressing the continued gridlock in the government, Representative Issa said, “There is no shortage of leaders but there is a shortage of leadership.” Commenting on the need to continue US humanitarian support for the people, Representative Kildee reflected on the large number of Lebanese Americans in his district, “The Lebanese came to Flint, MI at a time when we were in need. Now it’s time to repay the favor. “
Addressing the dire economic crisis in Lebanon, which what has been referred to as one the worst financial crises since the mid-19th century, Ed Gabriel, President of ATFL said, “The gravity of the situation reinforces the need for the United States to conduct an immediate review of its Lebanon policy with a goal of leading international efforts to support the economic reforms, meet the needs of the Lebanese people, and to take a firm stand against the negative regional influence which is destabilizing the country.” He concluded, “ATFL and its partners and friends will continue to work to strengthen US-Lebanon ties to preserve Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence.”
The American Task Force on Lebanon is 501(C)3 nonprofit organization of prominent Americans of Lebanese heritage, who educate for the strengthening of the historic U.S.-Lebanon relationship. The mission and objectives of ATFL shall always be in the best interest of the United States and will promote the national unity, independence, and prosperity of a democratic and multi-sectarian Lebanon.