U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has released the annual United Nations report on Resolution 1559, which calls for strengthening the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence of Lebanon. The resolution was adopted in 2004.
Among other issues, the Secretary General expressed concern over the continuing threat to Lebanese sovereignty and security posed by the presence of Hezbollah and other armed militias in Lebanon. Resolution 1559 demanded the disarming and disbanding of all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias. However, Mr. Ban noted in his report that several groups across the political spectrum in Lebanon continue to possess weapons outside government control, and that the armed component of Hezbollah "remains the most significant and most heavily armed Lebanese militia in the country," and that it "may exceed the capabilities of the Lebanese Armed forces."
Susan Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N., welcomed the Secretary General's report. She said that Hezbollah, and Hezbollah's patrons, Iran and Syria, are involved in actions that serve to destabilize Lebanon and the region. "Syria, especially," she said, "has displayed flagrant disregard for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence of Lebanon under the sole and exclusive authority of the Lebanese government."
As an example, Ambassador Rice pointed to Syria's issuance of an arrest warrant for 33 senior Lebanese officials and foreign nationals over testimony to a UN-backed tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of Lebanon's former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Ms. Rice said that by issuing the arrest warrants, Syria directly undermines Lebanese sovereignty.
Ambassador Rice said that Syria also continues to provide increasingly sophisticated weapons to Lebanese militias, especially Hezbollah. "Hezbollah remains the most significant and most heavily armed Lebanese militia. It could not have done so if not for Syria's aid and facilitation of Syrian and Iranian arms, which also violates U.N Security Council Resolution 1747.
"The United States urges all friends and neighbors of Lebanon to play a constructive role in supporting the Lebanese government in good faith," said Ambassador Rice. "We remain firmly committed to a sovereign, stable, and independent Lebanon, with strong Lebanese institutions. This is the only way to secure the best interests of the Lebanese people and the region as a whole."