Saudis Pledge $3 Billion to Support Lebanon’s Army

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Grant Seeks to Bolster Armed Forces Against Iranian-Backed Hezbollah.

Lebanese President Michel Sleiman, seen earlier this month, called the Saudi gift the largest ever to the country's armed forces. Associated Press

Saudi Arabia pledged $3 billion to bolster Lebanon’s armed forces, in a challenge to the Iranian-allied Hezbollah militia’s decadeslong status as Lebanon’s main power broker and security force.

Lebanese President Michel Sleiman revealed the Saudi gift on Lebanese national television Sunday, calling it the largest aid package ever to the country’s defense bodies. The Saudi pledge compares with Lebanon’s 2012 defense budget, which the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute put at $1.7 billion.

Lebanon would use the Saudi grant to buy “newer and more modern weapons,” from France, said Mr. Sleiman, an independent who has become increasingly critical of Hezbollah. It followed what he called “decades of unsuccessful efforts” to build a credible Lebanese national defense force.

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