Switzerland, suddenly aware that arms it was sending to a former Lebanese minister had gone missing, has decided to suspend arms exports to Lebanon. What makes this interesting is that the U.S. has been supplying arms to the Lebanese army which could wind up in the hands of the terrorist group Hezbollah.
According to LBCI channel, Swiss ambassador to Lebanon Monika Schmutz Kirgöz said her country had a contract saying arms transmitted to security units protecting political figures (the only arms Switzerland sells to Lebanon) must be able to be inspected by Swiss authorities to make sure they don’t wind up in the wrong hands.
But after a four-member inspection team visited Beirut in spring 2018 to see what had happened to the10 assault rifles and 30 submachine guns, which were reportedly sent to former minister Ghazi Zeaiter, according to the Daily Star, 31 of the weapons were missing. Elisabeth Gilgen, the deputy head of mission at the Swiss Embassy in Beirut, said, “We sold to a ministry, a government institution, and the recipient, according to the contract, signed as a representative of the Lebanese government.”
The Swiss economy ministry stated, “Swiss inspectors were only able to verify and inspect nine of the 40 small arms. It was agreed that the risk of the weapons ending up in undesirable hands is high and justifies a halt in licensing exports under the provisions of the Ordinance on War Materiel,”
As Tony Badran reported for Tablet Magazine in August 2017:
In recent years, federal law enforcement agencies have repeatedly arrested Hezbollah operatives in the US who were trying to procure weapons and other combat-related equipment for the group. Those arrests have given U.S. law enforcement a pretty clear idea of the specific items on Hezbollah’s wish-list – advanced rifles, night goggles, specialized communications gear and so forth.
In August 2017, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard stated that the U.S. had delivered the following items to the Lebanese Army in the previous 12 months:
40 M198 howitzers
50 armored Humvees
an Armed Cessna aircraft with hellfire missiles
55 mortar systems
50 Mark-19 automatic grenade launchers
1100 machine guns, including 800 50 caliber machine guns
4,000 M4 rifles
Over half a million rounds of ammunition
320 night vision devices and thermal sights
360 secure communication radios
Badran noted, “Why is this noteworthy? Well, as it happens, these precise items have been on Hezbollah’s shopping list consistently for almost a decade.” He listed various times Hezbollah members have sought arms, including Hezbollah official Hassan Hodroj and his son-in-law Dib Harb being indicted in Pennsylvania for attempting to buy 1,200 Colt M4 Carbines and to ship them to Syria (according to the indictment a Hezbollah official had “emphasized the need for quick delivery”); procurement agent Dani Tarraf being arrested and indicted for trying to purchase shoulder-fired missiles and 10,000 Colt M4 for Hezbollah; Patrick Daniel Nayyar arrested and charged with attempting to provide sniper rifles for Hezbollah, and Iman Kobeissi arrested on money laundering conspiracy charges and unlicensed firearms dealing conspiracy; she had investigated getting weapons for Hezbollah.
Badran concluded, “The bottom line is current U.S. policy is feeding an army that operates in a political configuration entirely dominated and directed by Hezbollah and its commanders in Iran.”