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

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells state's Republican Convention delegates campaign will be 'battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora