U.S. withholding security aid to Lebanon
Reuters is reporting that the Trump administration is withholding $105m in security aid for Lebanon. Details are limited, but possible reasons for the aid suspension include the increasing role of Hezbollah in the government, corruption, and/or uncertainty surrounding a new government in the wake of Prime Minister Saad Hariri's resignation.
Hariri's departure also puts in jeopardy the $11bn in soft loans and grants committed at the CEDRE conference in 2018. The World Bank, several European countries, Saudi Arabia, United States, Russia and Qatar took part in the funding and negotiations. The agreement made access to these funds conditional upon budgetary and sectoral reforms. The first phase of negotiations and reforms required for Lebanon to receive CEDRE funds were set to begin in mid-November.
While the west appears to be pulling back, Russia has recently increased its attention toward Lebanon, focusing on deepening bilateral ties with the country. Since at least 2015, Russia has held a renewed focus in the Middle East, most notably demonstrated by its involvement in the Syrian Civil War. If the west pulls its support from Lebanon, this will leave the former Soviet client state and Syrian neighbor wide open to Russian influence.