LIC Delegation Meets with Members of Congress

April 14, 2014

 

During the second week of April, an official delegation from the Lebanese Information Center, headed by its president, Dr. Joseph Gebeily, met with esteemed members of the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C. The same week, the Subcommittee on Middle East Affairs of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives held a hearing titled ďLebanonís Security Challenges and U.S. Interests,Ē which the LICís delegation attended.

The delegation began its meetings with Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Congressman Ed Royce (R-CA). The discussion centered on regional developments, particularly the situation in Syria, the ongoing talks with Iran over its nuclear program, and the impact of all these developments on Lebanon. The delegation also spoke with Chairman Royce about developments in the Lebanese arena in light of a series of challenges that await Lebanon, notably the upcoming Lebanese presidential elections.

Members of the LIC delegation were also pleased to meet Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC), Congressman Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Congressman Bradley Schneider (D-IL).

During these meetings, the LIC delegation gave detailed presentations on Lebanonís political and security situation and the challenges faced by the small Mediterranean country. The LIC focused on growing extremism and increasing instability caused by armed groups, primarily Hezbollah and its affiliates.

The LIC delegation also spoke of the swelling numbers of Syrian refugees, who now number more than one million in Lebanon alone. This issue is placing additional pressure on Lebanese society and state institutions, and the delegation stressed the need for expedited international aid to Lebanon to efficiently deal with this humanitarian crisis. 

On Lebanonís upcoming presidential elections, the LIC focused on the utmost importance of holding these elections on time and in accordance with the constitution in order to prevent a power vacuum in Lebanon. The delegation also stressed that the appropriate circumstances must be present to freely elect a strong leader, capable of executing all Lebanese agreements, including the Taef Accord and Baabda Declaration and of implementing all United Nations Security Council Resolutions related to Lebanon, especially UNSCRs 1559 and 1701.

As such, the LIC delegation emphasized the need to support a candidate that will strengthen Lebanese state institutions, extend the rule of the state over all Lebanese territories, secure Lebanonís borders, disarm all militias Ė Hezbollah in particular Ė and improve the capabilities of legitimate Lebanese powers to defend Lebanon from internal and external threats.  

The LIC delegation thanked the United States and the U.S. Congress for aid already provided to Lebanon, not only to ameliorate the refugee situation, but also to aid in Lebanonís development and the strengthening of its Armed Forces and Internal Security Forces. The LIC knows this aid comes in the context of Americaís firm policy in support of Lebanonís sovereignty, stability, and the sole rule of legitimate powers over Lebanese land.

As a result of these meetings, members of Congress from both the Democratic and Republican parties renewed the U.S.ís dedication towards Lebanon and its policy of supporting Lebanonís sovereignty, independence, and stability, of guaranteeing peace within Lebanese borders, and of rejecting any foreign intervention in Lebanon. Congressional members also stressed the importance of implementing international resolutions that came about through American support. Members of Congress demonstrated their dedication to Lebanonís state institutions and its military and security forces, and to the dissolving of all illegitimate armed powers, namely Hezbollah.  They reiterated their support for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and its work in bringing the perpetrators of political assassinations in Lebanon to justice. They added that the STLís work creates a legal and international deterrent to prevent these kinds of crimes in the future.

The meetings were concluded with an agreement to remain in contact and hold further discussions based on developments in Lebanon and the region.

 

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