BEIRUT: Lebanon on Wednesday entered talks with the International Monetary Fund, amid calls to disarm Hezbollah.
A report in the Jerusalem Post on Tuesday quoted UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres as saying that the Lebanese government and the army should take all possible steps to prevent Hezbollah and other armed groups from acquiring weapons.
He added that Hezbollah’s continued involvement in Syria “carries the risk of entangling Lebanon in regional conflicts and undermining the stability of Lebanon and the region.”
Guterres also expressed concern over Israel’s use of Lebanese airspace to attack targets in Syria.
Lebanon’s Supreme Defense Council, which is headed by President Michel Aoun, on Wednesday met to review measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and steps to control smuggling through illegal crossings on the border with Syria.
Within an hour of the meeting, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah gave a televised speech in which he called on the Lebanese government and army to work with the Syrian regime to halt the cross-border smuggling.
Commenting on the possible deployment of UN forces along the border, Nasrallah said that this would be “an achievement of one of the objectives of the Lebanese-Israeli war of July 2006, which is something we can never accept as it has nothing to do with the economy.”
He called on the Lebanese government to restore ties with the Syrian regime.
Following the speech, Lebanese MP Fadi Karam said: “It is not only a matter of some illegal border points, but there are highways open to assist the economy of the Syrian regime.”
In a message posted on Twitter, former minister May Chidiac wrote: “Nasrallah is eager to take advantage of the financial collapse and poverty of the Lebanese, and is going on with his plan to make us submit to the Iranian alliance.”
Former MP Mustafa Allouch, a member of the Future Movement, said: “It is true that Lebanon needs Syria economically but Lebanon does not need the Syrian regime, nor the Wilayat Al-Faqih in it. All they have contributed is destruction and devastation.”
Former MP Fares Souaid said: “Nasrallah lives in his own world. Lebanese relations are not only limited to Syria and Iraq as he claimed, but many other Arab countries.”