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US Criticizes Lebanese Government for Tolerating Hezbollah

US Criticizes Lebanese Government for Tolerating Hezbollah

Wednesday, 9 October, 2019 - 07:00
FILE PHOTO: Lebanon's Hezbollah supporters chant slogans during last day of Ashura, in Beirut, Lebanon September 20, 2018. REUTERS/Aziz Taher/File Photo
Beirut - Thaer Abbas
The United States is unhappy with the Lebanese government for tolerating Hezbollah, a western diplomatic source told Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday.

“The situation has not changed. There are still two armies in Lebanon, one of them being illegitimate and taking orders from abroad,” the diplomat, who was not identified, said.

He warned that there could be a large confrontation with Israel if Hezbollah received a certain order from abroad or some of its members decided to turn rogue.

The diplomat lashed out at Lebanese leaders for tolerating the status-quo and having a state within a state, in a direct threat to Lebanon’s national interests and its stability and security.

The first step towards finding a solution to the situation, the source explained, comes by admitting the problem’s existence.

He said that the latest US sanctions are not against Shiite banks or figures, but they specifically target Hezbollah and its members, and everyone who supports the party.

“Sanctions could be imposed on any individual who offers support to Hezbollah, regardless of his political, sectarian or religious background,” he said.

Asked whether the sanctions would affect the Lebanese government, the source admitted that certain parties in Washington are supporting such an idea.

“The US is currently sending signals to the government and to the Lebanese people that things could head to the worst,” he said.

In July, Washington imposed sanctions on two Lebanese deputies, Amin Sherri and Mohammed Raad, members of Hezbollah's Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc.

“Lebanese officials should realize that Hezbollah is not a political organization but an integrated armed group, present inside the government,” the diplomat said.

He added that the US wants the best of relations with Lebanon. “However, if things do not change, there would be a wider range of sanctions.”

The diplomat rejected claims that Hezbollah’s weapons are defending Lebanon.

“Those arms cannot defend the country, but can make the situation in Lebanon worse,” the source said.

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