Syria is still arming Hezbollah, Lebanese political leader asserts
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.”
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.