As US officials flew to Warsaw for a conference that was initially supposed to concentrate on Iran, US military planes unloaded a shipment of Advanced Precision Kill Weapons System (APKWS) in Lebanon. Hezbollah, an Iranian ally, plays a key role in Lebanon’s government, making the shipment and timing all the more strange.
In a series of tweets the US Embassy in Beirut said that the APKWS laser-guided rockets were valued at more than $16 million and were destined for the Lebanese armed forces. “These APKWS laser-guided rockets are a key component for the Lebanese Air Force’s new A-29 Super Tucano attack aircraft.” Washington said that the delivery “demonstrates the US government’s firm and steady commitment to support to the Lebanese Army in their capacity as the sole, legitimate defender of Lebanon.” The US has supplied $2 billion since 2005 to the Lebanese Armed Forces.
Lebanon neglected to attend the Warsaw conference, claiming that it didn’t want to appear with Israel. On Monday Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil met with his Iranian counterpart in Beirut where he said that Lebanon welcomed economic cooperation with Iran. The US has sanctioned Iran and the Trump administration has opposed Iran’s role in the region. However Lebanon appears to be a close ally of Iran, not only its official foreign minister, but also because of Hezbollah’s close ties to Iran. Although the US says that it is committed to the Lebanese army being the sole armed force in Lebanon, Hezbollah keeps growing in power. It recently received the Health ministry in coalition negotiations, one of the most well-endowed ministries in the country.