(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
BEIRUT — US Secretary of State Hillary Rodhman Clinton on Friday warned Hizbullah against resorting to violence, saying the militant group cannot stop a UN court investigating the assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister.
Clinton's remarks came in an interview with Lebanon's An-Nahar newspaper.
"Hizbullah should know that resorting once again to violence in Lebanon runs completely counter to the interests of the Lebanese people, the interests of the region, and of the United States," Clinton said. "They should also know that if the goal of violence is to stop the tribunal, it won't work," she added.RELATED:Hizbullah: We are ready for another war with Israel Report: Mughniyeh among suspects behind Hariri murder
Clinton said "intimidation or threats" from Hizbullah should not be tolerated. "The problem in Lebanon is not the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. The problem is that some are threatening violence in order to try to stop justice," she said in the interview.
The rising tensions in Lebanon are also affecting burgeoning US ties to Syria.
Clinton said Syria's behavior "has not met our hopes and expectations" over the past 20 months. "Syria's actions have not met its international obligations. Syria can still choose another path and we hope that it does," Clinton said.
Clinton's interview followed a threat by Hizbullah's leader Hassan Nasrallah who on Thursday said his group will "cut the hand" of anyone who tries to arrest its members for the 2005 assassination of Rafik Hariri.
The Netherlands-based tribunal is expected to issue indictments soon, and speculation that members of the Iranian-backed Hizbullah could be targeted has fueled fears of violence and a political crisis in the country. Nasrallah, who claims the court is biased, has said he expects members of his group to be indicted.
Nasrallah has also urged Lebanese not to cooperate with the probe. He
says the court is an "Israeli project" and poisoned by "false witnesses"
who misled the investigation.
On Thursday, he said the group will defend itself against any accusation.
"Those who imagine that we will allow the arrest or detention of any of
our fighters are mistaken," he told thousands of supporters in south
Beirut, a Hizbullah stronghold, speaking through a video link. "We will
cut the hand that reaches out for any one of them."
Hariri, Lebanon's most prominent politician after a 15-year civil war
ended in 1990, was killed by a truck bombing that ushered in major
political upheaval in the country. Immediately after the assassination,
suspicion fell on Damascus — leading to massive protests that ushered in
the end of Syria's nearly 30-year military presence and domination in
Damascus and Hizbullah have denied having any role in the killing.