(photo credit: AP)
A senior Lebanese anti-Syrian politician alleged on Saturday that Lebanese security agents were involved in helping Hizbullah smuggle in weapons across the country's porous border with Syria.
Druse leader Walid Jumblatt told the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite television channel that there is "complicity" between Hizbullah and some Lebanese security agents on the border who are allowing trucks to pass without being searched.
"Nobody knows what's inside these trucks," Jumblatt said without elaborating.
Jumblatt, a legislator and key government supporter, also said in the interview that he believes the Lebanese army should enter Hizbullah training camps along the Syrian-Lebanese boundary. The existence of such camps has never been confirmed by the Hizbullah or Lebanese security officials.
Also, such a crackdown against the Hizbullah would spark a major upheaval. The Lebanese army has so far been refused to be drawn into a conflict with the guerrillas and has taken a neutral stand in the political crisis between government and the Hizbullah-led opposition.
The army has said it will not move against either side, but also that it would not allow the dispute to degenerate into street violence, as was the case in December and January, when clashes took on a sectarian tone. Nine people were killed in the violence. At the time, the army came out onto the streets and briefly imposed a rare nighttime curfew.
Jumblatt's comments came a day after France circulated a draft UN Security Council statement expressing "serious concern" at mounting reports of illegal arms transfers across the Lebanon-Syria border and authorizing an independent mission to assess how the frontier is being guarded.
The draft, sent to Security Council members late Thursday, welcomes the Lebanese government's "determination" to prevent transfers of weapons - banned under a UN resolution that ended last summer's war between Hizbullah and Israel. It also urges all countries, especially Hizbullah backers Syria and Iran, to enforce the arms embargo.
"There is a state within a state," Jumblatt said of Lebanon in the interview. "There is a Hizbullah army alongside the Lebanese army.
There is Hizbullah intelligence alongside Lebanese (army) intelligence and there are Lebanese territories that the army is prohibited from entering."
"The Lebanese army should have ... entered the areas between Lebanon and Syria that are off-limits," he added.
Jumblatt, a one-time ally of Hizbullah, turned against the group last year and has been among the most ardent callers for disarming it.
Mahmoud Komati, the deputy leader of Hizbullah's political bureau, promptly denied Jumblatt's allegations, telling Al-Jazeera that "all these accusations are part of the conspiracy against the resistance."
The Hizbullah-led opposition in Lebanon has been locked in a bitter struggle with the US-backed government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora.
Despite his anti-Syrian stance, Saniora recently conceded that "not one single case of arms smuggling across the border" with Syria has been recorded.
The opposition has been staging protests and an open ended sit-in since Dec. 1 to try and force Saniora to resign after he rejected its call for a national unity government that would give it a veto-wielding share in Cabinet.