"Since 2005, the United States has provided over $600 million in security assistance to the government of Lebanon to increase the capacity of its various security forces to combat terrorism and secure Lebanon's borders against weapons smuggling to Hezbollah and other armed groups. The recent increase in U.S. security assistance to Lebanon is an extension of a long-standing commitment on the part of the United States to foster a friendly and independent Lebanese government. The Lebanese civil war (1975-1990) was punctuated by targeted bombings against U.S. and Western interests and kidnappings of U.S. and Western civilians in Lebanon. At times, the violence threatened to spill over into adjacent areas of the Middle East, demonstrating the dangers to U.S. interests posed by instability in this small country. A war between Israel and Hezbollah in mid-2006, subsequent clashes between radical Palestinian militia and the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), and ongoing sectarian conflict complicate U.S. support for Lebanon. In a broader sense, ongoing conflict not only jeopardizes the long-term stability of Lebanon, but also presents the United States with a number of pressing policy questions, including how to manage a long-standing commitment to Lebanon with other regional challenges. Many observers believe that U.S. policy toward Lebanon has succeeded diplomatically in bringing France, Saudi Arabia, and other Sunni Arabs together in order to thwart Iranian and Syrian influence through their proxy, Hezbollah. Critics, however, charge that U.S. policy has inflamed sectarian tensions and strengthened the resolve of Iran and Syria to maintain their influence in Lebanon."
CRS Report for Congress, R40485