It wasn't a US Army sniper who killed IDF Lt.- Col. Dov Harari and seriously wounded Capt. Ezra Lakia on Tuesday. But the Lebanese Armed Forces sniper who shot them owes a great deal to the generous support the LAF has received from America.
For the past five years, the LAF has been the second largest recipient of US military assistance per capita after Israel. A State Department press release from late 2008 noted that between 2006 and 2008, the LAF received 10 million rounds of ammunition, Humvees, spare parts for attack helicopters, vehicles for its Internal Security Forces "and the same frontline weapons that US military troops are currently using, including assault rifles, automatic grenade launchers, advanced sniper systems, anti-tank weapons and the most modern urban warfare bunker weapons."
Since 2006, the US has provided Lebanon some $500 million in military assistance. And there is no end in sight. After President Barack Obama's meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri in June, the White House proclaimed Obama's "determination to continue US efforts to support and strengthen Lebanese institutions such as the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Internal Security Forces."
And indeed, in late June, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates informed Congress that the Pentagon intends to provide the LAF with 24 120mm mortars, 24 M2 .50 caliber machine guns, 1 million rounds of ammunition, and 24 humvees and trailers. The latest orders should be delivered by the end of 2011.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the administration has already allocated $100m. in military assistance to Lebanon for 2011.
According to Lebanon's As-Safir newspaper, in written testimony to Congress, last week Obama's nominee to head the US Central Command, Gen. James Matthis, claimed that relations between US Central Command and the LAF focus on building the LAF's capabilities "to preserve internal stability and protect borders."
And how is that border protection going?
Tuesday's unprovoked LAF ambush of Lt.-Col. Harari's battalion within Israeli territory showed that the LAF is fully prepared to go to war against the US's closest ally in the region, in order to deter IDF units from crossing the border.
Even worse, are willing to commit unprovoked acts of illegal aggression to harm Israel.
As The Jerusalem Post reported on Wednesday, there is no reason to be surprised by what happened.
Since 2009, LAF soldiers have frequently pointed their rifles at IDF soldiers operating along the border. In recent months they have also cocked their rifles while aiming them at IDF forces. It was just a matter of time before they started shooting.
Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where this article first appeared.
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