News / Middle East

US: Hezbollah, Syria, Iran Threaten Lebanon's Stability

The United States expressed its growing frustration with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and its patrons Iran and Syria on Thursday. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said actions by the three to escalate sectarian tensions so they can assert their own authority over Lebanon only serve to destabilize the tiny Mediterranean nation and the region.

US: Hezbollah, Syria, Iran Threaten Lebanon's Stability
US: Hezbollah, Syria, Iran Threaten Lebanon's Stability

There has been growing rhetoric between the United States and Syria in recent days about each other's actions in Lebanon and the greater Middle East.

Earlier this week, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat that the United States has "created chaos" in every place it has entered. He cited Somalia and Afghanistan, as well as the U.S. intervention in Lebanon in the early 1980s.

In response, Washington accused Syria of destabilizing Lebanon by supplying arms to Hezbollah and issuing arrest warrants for senior Lebanese officials.

On Thursday, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice told reporters that Washington continues to have "deep concerns about Hezbollah's destructive and destabilizing influence in the region." She also accused Syria and Iran of trying to undermine Lebanon's independence and endanger its stability.

"We understand that certain actors within and outside Lebanon - including Syria, Hezbollah, and Iran - may believe that escalating sectarian tensions will help them assert their own authority over Lebanon. However, these actors serve only to destabilize Lebanon and the region," said Rice.

She singled out Syria for further rebuke.

"Syria, especially, has displayed flagrant disregard for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity, and political independence of Lebanon under the sole and exclusive authority of the Lebanese government, as affirmed in resolution 1559," Rice said.

U.N. Resolution 1559 was adopted in 2004, and called for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon - which at the time were primarily Syrian -- and reaffirmed its support for the country's sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. It also called for the disbanding and disarming of all Lebanese and Palestinian militias in the country.

Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari dismissed the U.S. ambassador's comments, saying they were based on "wrong facts and information" in the U.N. Secretary-General's recent report on the implementation of Resolution 1559.

The U.N. diplomat in charge of implementing Resolution 1559, Terje Roed-Larsen, briefed the Security Council on its progress. Roed-Larsen, a veteran of Middle East crises, said after the closed door meeting that the region is at a critical juncture.

"I believe we are now seeing a region where we have crosswinds and a hurricane blowing up," said Roed-Larsen. "And in the middle of the cross winds there is a tent standing, and that tent is critically upheld by two poles - one is the Palestinian one and the other one is the Lebanese. If one of those poles crack, the whole tent will go down. In other words, if the Lebanese situation is destabilized, I am afraid that it will have rippling effects across the region."

A Hezbollah fighter fixes the beret of a fellow member during a speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in the southern suburb of Beirut (File)
A Hezbollah fighter fixes the beret of a fellow member during a speech by Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in the southern suburb of Beirut (File)

In the U.N. Secretary-General's report, he warns that "Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias continue to operate in the country" beyond the government's control. He said the armed wing of Hezbollah remains "the most significant and most heavily armed" of the groups and that its military capabilities may exceed those of the Lebanese Armed Forces. He said Hezbollah's arsenal creates an "atmosphere of intimidation" and called on the group to disarm and become solely a political party.

The situation has grown more tense in recent months, as Lebanon awaits possible indictments soon by the U.N. tribunal investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others in a massive truck bombing in 2005.

Syria has denied widely-held suspicions it was involved in the blast. Many observers expect the court to indict members of Hezbollah, which has the potential to throw the country back into violence.  

On Wednesday, in a Beirut suburb that is a stronghold of Hezbollah, three members of the U.N. court were attacked and threatened by a mob of women at a doctor's office where they had gone to examine evidence.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs