Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Senate Holds Hearing on Lebanon

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Senate Holds Hearing on Lebanon

Article excerpt

The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations' Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South and Central Asian Affairs held a Feb. 25 hearing entitled "Lebanon at a Crossroads" at the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) presided over the hearing.

The senator began by reflecting on his recent trip to Lebanon. Noting that he witnessed a terrorist attack during his visit, Kaine lamented that such acts have become common in the country. "It was a little heartbreaking to see the normality of the situation," he said. In order for Lebanon to persevere through the ongoing regional instability, the senator stressed the importance of solving the Syrian civil war and strengthening both the Lebanese government and the Lebanese armed forces.

Lawrence Silverman, acting deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs, testified that the Feb. 15 formation of a new national unity government by Prime Minister Tammam Salam, which ended 10 months of political tension and gridlock, "is a welcome development for the Lebanese people." The new government "is in a sense an improvement over its predecessor," he said. "Nearly all political factions are represented in a careful balance."

Paul Salem, vice president of the Middle East Institute (MEI), predicted that the new government will prove to be "an important step in easing sectarian and factional tensions, consolidating precarious national stability, and helping the country ride out the oncoming waves of instability emanating from Syria. …

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