Syria is still arm­ing Hezbol­lah, Le­banese po­lit­i­cal leader as­serts

The Washington Times Weekly - - World - By David R. Sands

Syria has con­tin­ued to fun­nel arms to the Shi’ite Hezbol­lah mili­tia in­de­fi­ance­ofin­ter­na­tion­alde­mands, thus un­der­min­ing hopes for peace and­sta­bil­i­ty­inLe­banon,aLe­banese po­lit­i­cal leader said on Oct. 31.

WalidJum­blatt,long­time­leaderof the mi­nor­ity Druze com­mu­nity, is the most se­nior Le­banese politi­cian to visit Wash­ing­ton since Is­rael’s in­con­clu­sive month­long war with Hezbol­lah in south­ern Le­banon.

The con­flict dev­as­tated large ar­eas of the coun­try and scram­bled Le­banon’s al­ready com­pli­cated po­lit­i­cal land­scape.

“As long as the Syria-Le­banon border is not be­ing mon­i­tored ef­fec­tively, the flow of weapons will con­tinue and there will be in­sta­bil­ity,” Mr.Jum­blatt­said­i­nanad­dresstothe WoodrowWil­sonIn­ter­na­tion­alCen­ter for Schol­ars.

Is­raeli forces pum­meled Hezbol­lah po­si­tions dur­ing the war but failed to de­liver a knock­out blow to the Is­lamic mili­tia, which has re­sisted­de­mands­fro­moth­erLe­banese fac­tion­sand­fromtheUnit­edNa­tions to dis­arm.

The­com­plaint­fromMr.Jum­blatt, a key fig­ure in the anti-Syr­ian coali­tion that dom­i­nates Le­banon’s par­lia­ment, came a day af­ter John R. Bolton, the U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, said at a Se­cu­rity Coun­cil meet­ing that Syria and Iran —Hezbol­lah’stwom­ain­spon­sors— were “ac­tively try­ing to desta­bi­lize the demo­crat­i­cally elected gov­ern­ment of Le­banon” by re-arm­ing Hezbol­lah. Syria has de­nied the charge. Is­rael com­plains that the Le­bane­segov­ern­men­tand­abeefedup U.N. peace­keep­ing force now in south­ern Le­banon have failed to car­ry­outkey­part­soft­heac­cordthat end­edthe­fight­inginthe­sum­mer,in­clud­ing dis­arm­ing Hezbol­lah and en­forc­ing an arms em­bargo.

Is­raeli fighter planes yes­ter­day flew at low al­ti­tude over parts of the cap­i­tal, Beirut, and south­ern Le­banon to mon­i­tor what Is­raeli de­fense of­fi­cials say are con­tin­u­ing vi­o­la­tions of the arms em­bargo by Hezbol­lah.

Mr. Jum­blatt, head of Le­banon’s Pro­gres­siveSo­cial­istParty,has­been a cen­tral fig­ure in Le­banon’s sec­tar­ian pol­i­tics for three decades as the leader of the coun­try’s Druze com­mu­nity,anoff­shootofIs­lam.He­first sup­ported Syria’s mil­i­tary pres­ence in Le­banon but broke with Da­m­as­cus af­ter the death of Syr­ian Pres­i­dent Hafez As­sad in 2000.

He was a key player in the an­tiSyr­ian Cedar Revo­lu­tion that fol­lowed the Fe­bru­ary 2005 as­sas­si­na­tion of for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Rafik Hariri.Many­blamedDa­m­as­cus­for the at­tack, and protests forced Syr­ian troops to with­draw from Le­banon.

Mr. Jum­blatt ac­knowl­edged that the im­age of Hezbol­lah leader Has­sanNas­ral­lah­had­soaredintheArab and Mus­lim world be­cause of the tough re­sis­tance his fight­ers put up again­stIs­rael.ButMr.Jum­blatt­said de­mands­byHezbol­la­han­dit­sal­lies inside Le­banon for more seats in a pro­posed “na­tional unity gov­ern­ment” could back­fire.

“We have the ma­jor­ity, not Hezbol­lah,” Mr. Jum­blatt said. “If they top­ple the gov­ern­ment, there would be chaos and dis­or­der that could lead any­where.

“If Nas­ral­lah was or­dered by the Syr­ian regime not to agree to na­tional unity, it is a very risky game he is play­ing.”

Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

Best of bud­dies: In this hand­out pic­ture taken Oct. 30, In­dian Army Bri­gadier San­jay Kulka­rni (right) and Chi­nese Army Colonel Li Ming An (left) hold hands aloft dur­ing a Border Per­son­nel Meet­ing (BPM) on the Chi­nese side of the Line of Ac­tual Con­trol at Bumla, on the In­dia-China Border in the east­ern In­dian State of Arunachal Pradesh. The BPMs are held twice a year in May and Oc­to­ber, hosted al­ter­nately by In­dia and China, to en­sure peace and sta­bil­ity along the border.

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