Trump trips up over claims Lebanon on 'frontline' against Hezbollah

Thursday, 27 Jul, 2017

But asked how, exactly, the United States can help Lebanon cope with the massive number of refugees, Trump answered, "Well, we are helping".

Well, it's great to have Prime Minister Hariri with us.

When reporters asked Trump about how the USA will help Lebanon with Syrian refugees, he responded: "We are helping".

That impression was only solidified today, when he loudly condemned Hezbollah as threatening to start a war with Israel, and lumping them in with ISIS and al-Qaeda, despite those being the groups Hezbollah is fighting against in Syria.

Hariri's late father, who also served as Lebanon's prime minister, was assassinated by Hezbollah in 2005. Hezbollah is also supported by Iran.

However, with the Trump administration seeking to slash the State Department budget on foreign spending and military aid, there are concerns that the funding for Lebanon's military will be completely cut in 2018.

"The best case scenario [for the Lebanese prime minister] is Mr Trump acknowledging that this is a Lebanon that isn't defined narrowly by Hizbollah and that is worth saving", said Mr Nerguizian. Getting rid of ISIS is one way. "But it's something I actually know quite a bit about", Trump said.

Trump said he was "not a fan of Assad", referring to Bashar Assad, the president of Syria. "I am not somebody that will stand by and let him get away with what he tried to do". "I outlined to President Trump my government vision for dealing with this crisis with the support of the worldwide community". Syrian refugees make up about 25 percent of Lebanon's population of some 6 million people.

"Had president Obama gone across that line and done what he should have done, I don't believe you'd have Russian Federation, and I don't believe you'd have Iran, anywhere near the extent and maybe not at all, in Syria today", Trump said.

The covert program that began in 2013 was designed as part of efforts by Obama to overthrow Assad, but it produced little success.

Although he did not mention Hezbollah by name in his English comments, the 2006 resolution he cited calls for "the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon, so that ... there will be no weapons or authority in Lebanon other than that of the Lebanese state". "We have generals that don't like to talk; they like to do".

In a unilateral move on April 7, the USA military chose to target the Syrian army directly by firing 59 Tomahawk missiles at al-Shayrat airbase in Homs province in western Syria.