A US State Department official said Washington hopes that Lebanon’s next government would be willing to work with it “on areas of mutual interest,” but expressed concern over Hezbollah’s rising political clout in the country.
“We continue to have deep concerns regarding Hezbollah’s growing political power inside Lebanon,” the unnamed official told Reuters on Tuesday December 18th.
The US is the biggest backer of the Lebanese army, providing more than $1.5 billion in support since 2006.
“We are concerned about the efforts of Hezbollah’s political allies that provide it with top cover and a veneer of legitimacy,” the official added.
The official told Reuters that the US also hopes for cooperative relations with the next government on issues of mutual concern.
“We hope Lebanon’s next government will build a stable and secure Lebanon that is committed to peace, responsive to the needs of the Lebanese people, and working with the United States on areas of mutual interest,” the official said.
The push to finalise Lebanon’s next government comes amid an operation by the Israeli military to locate cross-border attack tunnels Israel says were dug by Hezbollah, the Iran-backed militia. Israel launched Operation Northern Shield, an effort to find and destroy the tunnels, earlier this month.