About a month and a half after the formation of the Lebanese government, with a majority for the pro-Syria and pro-Iran Hizbullah-led March 8 Alliance, the U.S. is increasing its pressure on Lebanon, with the aim of preventing Hizbullah from becoming even stronger in the Lebanese political arena and preventing Lebanon from moving closer to Russia.
This pressure is manifested in statements by U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, who at the conclusion of her February 19, 2019, meeting with Lebanese Prime Minister Sa'd Al-Hariri expressed concern about Hizbullah's growing role, that she said is destabilizing the country. However, she clarified that the U.S. intends to continue its aid to Lebanon. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Satterfield, who visited Lebanon in early March 2019, further underlined the link between American aid and the efforts required of Lebanon to stop Hizbullah from growing stronger. He stressed that his and other countries' approach to Lebanon depended on "how Lebanon makes its decisions, which we hope will be positive for the good of Lebanon, and not for the good of external elements" – that is, Iran. According to one report, Satterfield also said that the continuation of U.S. aid to Lebanon was conditional upon a cessation of its rapprochement with Russia. Satterfield's visit was in advance of the planned March 23 visit of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
According to reports in the Lebanese press, Pompeo is expected, in his meetings with Lebanese leaders, including President Michel Aoun and Prime Minister Al-Hariri, to raise the American concern about the strengthening of Hizbullah's position in the political arena; the concern that as a result Iran will increase its influence in Lebanon, via Hizbullah or by means of penetration into government institutions like the army and also into its spheres of health and energy; and also the concern that Lebanon will thus become a conduit for bypassing the sanctions imposed on Hizbullah and Iran. Pompeo is also expected to express the American reservations about Lebanon's increasing closeness to Russia, which over the past year has been working to establish its presence in Lebanon through joint military agreements, agreements regarding oil, and through the initiative to return the Syrian refugees in Lebanon to Syria. It is noteworthy that Pompeo is set to arrive in Lebanon just three days before Lebanese President Michel Aoun is due to go to Russia to meet with President Putin. Another topic to be discussed by Pompeo and senior Lebanese officials is the setting of the economic water border between Lebanon and Israel, a step that the U.S. would like to speed up, apparently due to concern that a stronger Hizbullah will harm the chances of doing so in the future.
The March 8 Alliance responded with bitterness to the U.S. pressure on Lebanon to prevent the strengthening of Hizbullah and its allies. Elements in this camp viewed the words of Ambassador Richard and Assistant Secretary of State Satterfield as a "rude and vulgar" intervention in Lebanon's internal affairs. The two were accused by representatives of this camp of violating Lebanon's honor and also of incitement, in an attempt to spark civil war.
Articles in the Hizbullah-affiliated Al-Akhbar daily claimed that the U.S is attempting to destabilize Lebanon and that it "is determined not to allow Lebanon to remain outside the American-Israeli-Saudi war against the axis of resistance." As mentioned, Satterfield stated said that his country would continue to pressure Lebanon even at the cost of undermining its stability.
Meanwhile, the March 8 Alliance is closely following the run-up to Pompeo's visit, while warning against it. Sheikh Suheib Habli, who is close to Hizbullah, warned of a return to the American plans to harm Lebanon's security and stability, and added that the wave of American incitement will end with the visit of Pompeo "who will bring with him dictates which the U.S. wants to impose on Lebanon." Former minister Wiam Wahhab even warned: "If [Prime Minister Al-Hariri] surrenders to the pressure from Secretary of State Pompeo, it will lead to the fall of the government... and to the establishment of a majority government [of the March 8 Alliance]."
An article on the Hizbullah website Al-Ahed stated that Pompeo is not welcome since he is coming to incite against Hizbullah. The article describes the U.S. Embassy as an "espionage nest" whose only mission is to spy on Hizbullah. The March 8 Alliance's attack on Pompeo's upcoming visit was also expressed in a stinging article by journalist Yasser Rahal, published on the Hizbullah website Al-Ahed, which called the U.S. the "mother of terrorism" and the "Great Satan." He added that the American activity in Lebanon is aimed at harming the resistance and Lebanon as a whole, and that Pompeo's visit is intended to present Lebanon with dictates and financial incentives. Therefore, he concluded, the Lebanese should not minimize their sources of strength, first and foremost the resistance.
The following is the translation of Rahal's article:
"Every time the situation in Lebanon stabilizes, and it seems as though the Lebanese are reaching understanding and agreement and the train is getting back on track, the American 'raven bearing ill omens' arrives, with a plan to provoke internal controversy.
"In fact, the U.S. encourages infighting and quarrels, and is 'the mother of terrorism.' I would direct anyone who still believes in the American dream and all the slogans related to it, such as the international community, to take a look at America's black record, which is overflowing with crimes and aggression against countries and peoples.
"Let's settle for [giving here] a list of the countries it has fought against, conquered, or in whose affairs it has intervened: Colombia, Panama, Korea, Morocco, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, China, Haiti, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Turkey, Russia, Germany, Japan, Greece, Puerto Rico, Lebanon, Laos, Ecuador, Vietnam, Indonesia, Granada, Libya, Virgin Islands, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Syria, Bahrain and Yemen. Thirty-six countries have suffered from the evil of the United States. There is no choice but to repeat the famous words of the imam Khomeini who described the United States as the Great Satan.
"With respect to Lebanon – let us not go back to the [U.S. forces'] landing on the coast of Beirut in 1958. Let's settle for the plans that the [U.S.] foreign ministers and their aides, and its ambassadors, had for their visits to Lebanon.
"We have no intention of recounting the history in detail. Suffice it to mention names that will remind the Lebanese of the positions of the 'dear' [then-U.S. Ambassador to Beirut and assistant secretary of state] Jeffrey Feltman, and the $500 million [earmarked at that time for] demonizing Hizbullah; [then-U.S. Ambassador to Beirut] Michelle Sisson and her statements about Hizbullah which were revealed through WikiLeaks; [Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs] David Satterfield and the pressure he applied to deprive the Lebanese of their rights to the oil; [then-Secretary of State] Colin Powell and [his] attempt to wipe out the resistance [i.e. Hizbullah]; [then-Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice and the attempt to subjugate the people of resistance during the 2006 aggression [i.e. the Second Lebanon War]; and, prior to that, [then-Secretary of State] Madeleine Albright and her activity to prevent the liberation [of South Lebanon, and her support for] the theft of land, water, and oil for the benefit of the enemy, and [her] threat against [then-Lebanese] president Emile Lahoud.
"In his upcoming visit Mike Pompeo's behavior will be no different than that of his predecessors. He will come to ''educate' the Lebanese because they stood up for themselves and refused to submit to the conditions of the Israeli enemy with respect to the drawing of the sea border.
"He is coming to warn that there will be 'great calamity and catastrophe' if the resistance [i.e. Hizbullah] remains entrenched in the hearts of the Lebanese. He is coming with hands stained with the blood of children in Yemen, Iraq, Libya, and Palestine, and in Syria, which defeated him, and he will leave with his tail between his legs in failure. He will not hide behind baseless allegations, as is common in diplomacy – he will say aloud: It's either Israel or the whip. We will increase the sanctions, shut down your economy, and prevent agreements, and that is just the beginning. Hand over to us the head of the resistance, and what you will receive from us will amaze the world. Renounce your sovereignty, your land, and your oil, and we will compensate you 10 times over.'
"Calm down, gentlemen, times have changed. Lebanon is no longer at the nadir of its weakness, but is strong by virtue of its army, its people, and its resistance [i.e. Hizbullah].
"It has already been proven that every time we entered the fray, we won. Who would have believed that the unbeatable army [i.e. the IDF] would be defeated? Who would have believed that the war against the takfir terrorism would succeed, and that we would banish it from our country? If the Lebanese belittle all their strong points this time, then [we may as well say] goodbye to the country... and it will be too late for regret."
 Lb.usembassy.gov, February 20, 2019.
 Almanar.com.lb, March 5, 2019.
 Elnashra.com, March 9, 2019.
 See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Series 1443, Dispute In Lebanon Over Iran's Offer To Equip Lebanese Army, February 25, 2019.
 Elnashra.com, February 20, 2019.
 Almanar.com.lb, March 6, 2019.
 Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), March 7, 2019; March 8, 2019.
 Elnashra.com, March 15, 2019.
 Elnashra.com, March 18, 2019.
 Alahednews.com.lb, March 19, 2019.
 In 1958 the United States intervened militarily in Lebanon to stop the civil war that had broken out in the country.
 The WikiLeaks website revealed telegrams about Hizbullah sent by Ambassador Sisson, for example, a telegram about Iran's involvement in Hizbullah's communications network. Wikileaks.org, April 16, 2008.
 Following Lebanon's opposition to a draft resolution in the UN Security Council which approved the IDF withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright pressured Lebanese President Emile Lahoud to rescind his country's opposition. In his book, Lahoud wrote that during the argument (on the phone), Albright threatened him, and he hung up on her. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7360, In The Shadow Of U.S. Demands For Disarming Hizbullah And For Compromise In Lebanon-Israel Border Conflicts, U.S. Secretary Of State Tillerson Is Insulted In Lebanon Visit And Meetings Yield No Results, February 28, 2018.
 Alahednews.com.lb, March 15, 2019.