US voices concern over Hezbollah’s role in Lebanese Cabinet

In this photo released by Lebanon's official government photographer Dalati Nohra, United States Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, left, speaks with Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, at the government House, in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, Feb 19, 2019. (AP)
Updated 19 February 2019
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US voices concern over Hezbollah’s role in Lebanese Cabinet

  • Hezbollah, which also takes part in elections, has named a health minister and two other posts in Lebanon’s Cabinet

BEIRUT: The US ambassador to Lebanon expressed concerns Tuesday over the militant Hezbollah group’s growing role in the new Cabinet, saying it does not contribute to stability.
Hezbollah, which also takes part in elections, has named a health minister and two other posts in Lebanon’s Cabinet. US officials have called on Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s new government to ensure the group does not receive support from public resources.
At a meeting with Hariri on Tuesday, Ambassador Elizabeth Richard said the Iran-backed Hezbollah continues to violate Lebanon’s policy of non-involvement in regional conflicts by fighting in “at least three countries.” She was apparently referring to Syria, where the group fights alongside the government, and Iraq and Yemen, where Iran supports local armed groups.
“I was also very frank with the prime minister about US concern over the growing role in the Cabinet of an organization that continues to maintain a militia that is not under the control of the government,” Richard told reporters after the meeting.
She added that Hezbollah continues to make its own “national security decisions” that “endanger the rest of the country.”
The US views Hezbollah as a terrorist group, but is a strong supporter of Lebanon’s national army, supplying it with arms worth hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years. Last week, the American Embassy said the US had delivered laser-guided rockets valued at more than $16 million to the Lebanese army.
Richard said last year alone, the United States provided more than $825 million in assistance, an increase from the year before. She said the US has also supported education and development programs to help Lebanese communities “deal with the unprecedented demands placed on them when their Syrian neighbors fled.”
Lebanon is home to about a million Syrian refugees — a quarter of the tiny Mediterranean country’s population — putting pressure on its crumbling infrastructure.
Minister of State for Refugee Affairs Saleh Gharib briefed President Michel Aoun and Hariri on Tuesday about his visit to Syria the previous day, telling reporters that Syrian officials “were very positive and showed interest in facilitating” refugees’ return.


Saudi Arabia joins Arab anger over ‘theft of occupied Golan Heights’

Updated 8 min 52 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia joins Arab anger over ‘theft of occupied Golan Heights’

  • Israel seized part of the Golan during the 1967 Six-Day War, subsequently annexing it in 1981
  • US President Trump officially recognized Israel's sovereignty of the Golan Heights on March 25, 2019

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia joined Arab states on Tuesday in condemning a decision by the United States to recognize the occupied Golan Heights as Israeli territory.

Breaking decades of international consensus, US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation at the White House on Monday recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the border area that Israel seized from Syria in 1967. 

Saudi Arabia firmly rejected the decision and affirmed its position that Golan Heights was occupied Syrian Arab land in accordance with the relevant international resolutions, Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

 

Bahrain also released an official statement on Tuesday expressing their regret over the announcement made by US over Golan Heights.

The declaration, made by the US, is a clear violation of the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, the report said.

The US decision was a violation of Security Council resolutions 242 of 1967 and 497 of 1981, and would have devastating implications on the peace process in the Middle East, as well as security and stability in the region, Saudi Arabia’s official statement said.

Saudi Arabia called on all parties to respect the decisions of international legitimacy and the charter of the United Nations.

Meanwhile, the Arab League Secretary-General, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, said that the decision “does not change the area’s status” as illegally occupied territory,

Syria said the decision was a blatant attack on its sovereignty. 

“Trump does not have the right or the legal authority to legitimize the occupation,” a foreign ministry spokesman said.

Opposition chief Nasr Al-Hariri said Trump’s decision would “lead to more violence and instability, and it will have negative effects on efforts to engineer peace in the region.”

Lebanon said the move “violates all the rules of international law” and “undermines any effort to reach a just peace.”

“The Golan Heights are Syrian Arab land, no decision can change this, and no country can revisit history by transferring ownership of land from one country to another,” the Foreign Ministry said.