Ban: Hezbollah arms undermine Lebanese freedom

UN chief issues report on Lebanon, urges all militias to disarm, says Beirut "lacks systematic approach to managing Syrian border."

Hezbollah rocket launcher 311 (R) (photo credit: Reuters)
Hezbollah rocket launcher 311 (R)
(photo credit: Reuters)
NEW YORK – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has issued his annual report on Lebanon, urging a formal delineation of the border with Syria and denouncing the continued presence of militias threatening the country’s security.
Ban’s 13th annual report focuses on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559, which was adopted in 2004 and calls for “the disbanding and disarmament” of all factions in Lebanon.
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“The delineation and demarcation of Lebanon’s boundaries are an essential element to guarantee the country’s territorial integrity,” Ban’s report stated. “It is also a critical element to allow for proper border control.”
He also condemned Israeli overflights of Lebanon.
“This intense regime of aerial surveillance violates [Security Council] Resolutions 1559 (2004) and 1701 (2006), and Lebanese sovereignty. It also increases tensions. The government of Lebanon has repeatedly protested these violations. I have deplored these violations and demanded that they cease immediately,” he wrote.
Ban said in the report he was concerned by recent events in Lebanon, including the explosion last month of a small bomb in a church in the eastern town of Zahle.
“These occurrences confirm yet again the possession of lethal weapons by non-state actors,” the secretary-general said in his report. “They also demonstrate a complete disregard for the safety of Lebanon’s civilian population, Lebanese law and for the authority of the Lebanese government by armed groups.”
The Lebanese-Syrian border is notably porous, allowing for ample arms smuggling. Ban said the Lebanese government “still lacks a systematic approach to border management.”
The armed component of Hezbollah, the report notes, is the most significant and most heavily armed militia in the country. Under Resolution 1559, all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militia are to be disbanded. However, Hezbollah has repeatedly warned the Lebanese government that it will not turn over its arms, claiming they are used for “defensive purposes against Israel.”
Noting that there has been no progress in getting any militia to turn over its arms, Ban wrote, “The continued existence of Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias undermines the rights of every Lebanese citizen to live without fear of physical harm and the consolidation of Lebanon as a democratic state and the stability of the country and the region. It is also incompatible with the objective of strengthening Lebanon’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence.”
The leadership of the PLO, Ban noted, has reiterated its call upon all Palestinians in Lebanon to respect the sovereignty and political independence of Lebanon and adhere to Lebanese law and security requirements.
“The presence of Palestinian armed groups outside the camps continues to challenge the ability of Lebanon to exercise full sovereignty over its territory,” the secretary-general wrote. “I have called upon the government of Lebanon to dismantle the Damascus-headquartered PFLP-GC and Fatah al- Intifada [often referred to as the Abu Musa Faction] military bases in the country, and on the government of the Syrian Arab Republic to cooperate with these efforts.
“I have repeatedly cautioned that the existence of militias outside government control is a fundamental anomaly that stands against the democratic aspirations of the Lebanese people and threatens domestic peace,” Ban wrote. “Armed groups defying the control of the state are incompatible with the objective of strengthening Lebanon’s sovereignty and political independence and with the protection of Lebanon’s unique pluralistic system and the rights of Lebanese citizens.
“I condemn the use of illegal weapons wherever it occurs in Lebanon, in particular in populated areas,” Ban wrote. “For this reason, I appeal to all parties, inside and outside of Lebanon, to immediately halt all efforts to transfer, acquire weapons and build paramilitary capacities outside the authority of the state.”