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US State Department Prepares Budget to Counter Tehran’s Regional Activities

US State Department Prepares Budget to Counter Tehran’s Regional Activities

Wednesday, 30 October, 2019 - 14:45
Assistant Secretary for the US State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker (state.gov)
Washington- Asharq Al-Awsat
David Schenker, assistant secretary for the US State Department’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, told the Congress that 2020’s fiscal year budget will focus primarily on countering Iran's influence.

He said Iran is a “provocative and malicious player” that threatens US allies and intervenes in the affairs of Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, and other regional countries.

In a session held by the House Foreign Affairs’ Middle East and South Africa Subcommittee, Schenker said the US administration’s strategy on Iran primarily focuses on “neutralizing Iran's destabilizing influence and constraining its malign activities, particularly in support for terrorism and militants.”

“Strong diplomatic, economic and security measures must be bolstered by US assistance programs that support key partners and seek to deny access and influence to Iran and its proxies,” he stressed.

“Resources requested in this budget will counter Iran’s malign influence in Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen by working through our local partners.”

For instance, Schenker said the State Department’s budget for 2020 allocates $50 million in military assistance to Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).

He added that this US support seeks to counter the influence of both Hezbollah and its patron, Iran. A strong and independent LAF capable of defending Lebanon is critical to undermining Hezbollah's false claims of legitimacy.

“This request also increases support to the Iranian people and the free flow of information.”

“The White House’s fiscal year 2020 foreign assistance budget request of $6.6 billion for the region will support national security priorities to counter Iran’s malign influence, ensure the enduring defeat of ISIS, support persecuted religious and ethnic minorities throughout the region and maintain support to key allies and critical partnerships across the region,” he explained.

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