Hezbollah issued a stark warning to Jerusalem on Wednesday, vowing to protect
Lebanon’s maritime sovereignty in the face of “Israeli threats.”
“will remain vigilant in order to regain its full rights, whatever it takes,”
the Lebanese news website Naharnet quoted Hezbollah deputy chief Naim Qassem as
Lebanon says it will protect its borders and resources
Sheshinski bill on oil and gas taxation approved
The comments came in response to Israeli plans to mark
countries’ maritime border to ensure unrestricted access to lucrative natural
“Hezbollah supports the national position to defend the
country’s maritime rights and the government’s demarcation of a maritime
border,” Qassem said in a speech. “The Israeli threats don’t frighten us. We
will not change our position and [will] continue to maintain our
rights. Israel knows its threats fall on deaf ears in Lebanon, after it
tasted the bitter taste of the powerful Lebanese resistance.”
Pipes, president of the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum think tank,
described the denunciations as “comical.”
“I don’t take it very
seriously,” he said. “What I do take seriously is the Turkish
involvement. The Turks are making noises that they don’t like the Cypriot
agreement with Israel, and that I think could be a sign of troubles to come. The
Turks themselves can’t make claims on this side of the Mediterranean, but
through Cyprus they can. I think the Hezbollah claims are a bit comical, but the
Turkish ones are more serious.”
Two major natural gas fields have been
discovered in recent years off the Israeli coast. In December, Israel reached an
agreement with Cyprus marking the two countries’ sea borders.
agreement came after Cyprus came to a similar understanding four years ago with
Lebanon, though that pact has yet to be approved in the Lebanese
Earlier this week, the cabinet in Jerusalem approved its
border map for submission to the UN, but Lebanese officials say the map
conflicts sharply with the map they had already presented to the world
On Tuesday, former Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri unleashed an
unprecedented verbal attack against Hezbollah, saying the indictments issued by
the UN Special Tribunal on the assassination of his father, former premier Rafik
Hariri, would never be changed. Four Hezbollah operatives are charged in the
elder Hariri’s 2005 death.
“If Nasrallah comes out in 300 press
conferences, he will not change the content of the indictments,” Saad Hariri
“Their people stand accused, and they must be put on
Hariri also slammed the group for its vast weapons stores, which
he said lie at the the core of Lebanon’s continued instability.
weapons are the cause of the problem in Lebanon. Hezbollah does not know
what to do with its arms. It is our problem with Hezbollah and also it is a
problem for Hezbollah,” he told a local television channel.
Lebanon must be viewed in connection with the popular protests destabilizing
neighboring Syria for the past four months. “Should the Bashar Assad regime hold
out and prevail, Hezbollah will presumably continue to strengthen.
that’s the question – Hezbollah’s very future is connected to the Assad regime,”
Pipes said by telephone from Philadelphia.
Were the Syrian president to
be toppled, he said, “Hezbollah would lose its patron and have to be more
careful. I don’t think we can talk about Lebanon on its own now – we have to
wait and see what the denouement in Syria is.
“I’m inclined to think the
regime is in major trouble,” he added. “Things are pretty bleak for the Assad
family – I wouldn’t count them out yet, but I wouldn’t bet on them.
week’s attacks on the US and French embassies [in Damascus] – what were they
thinking?” Pipes asked. “I’ve always seen Bashar as a rookie. He’s just not good
at this. He’s an unsteady captain at the helm. That’s crucial in my
pessimism for the regime.”