Protestor at Beirut rally to denounce a film mocking Islam holds poster of Nasrallah and Assad (Photo: Joseph Eid AFP)
Both U.S. and Israeli ambassadors to the UN addressed Hezbollah at the UN Security Council meeting yesterday after Hezbollah Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah confirmed on Saturday it was Hezbollah who sent the drone shot down by Israel.
U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice’s remarks centered on Lebanon’s relationship with Syria. She accused Hezbollah of being part of Assad’s “killing machine” and Nasrallah of carrying out a “deadly form of deception” regarding Lebanese national interests. She also urged other security council members to “expose Hezbollah’s deepening involvement in Assad’s war.”
“Hezbollah’s active and growing support for Assad’s war exposes Hassan Nasrallah’s claims of promoting Lebanon’s national interest as nothing more than a deadly form of deception,” Rice said.
“The group’s leaders may try to change the subject by invoking hollow rhetoric about so-called resistance, but the truth is plain to see: Nasrallah’s fighters are now part of Assad’s killing machine and Hezbollah’s leaders continue to plot with Iran new measures to prop up a murderous and desperate dictator,” she said.
Many speakers at the day-long council meeting mentioned the escalating casualty toll in Syria – now estimated by activists at over 30,000 – and the divided council’s failure to take action to halt it, but much of the focus was on the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Rice also warned of the possibility that the ongoing unrest in Syria will have negative repercussions on other countries, giving Lebanon as an example of a state that is feeling the effects of the conflict.
“No one can deny that Assad’s war against the Syrian people now poses real challenges to all of Syria’s neighbors, including Lebanon. From deadly Syrian regime attacks across the border to tens of thousands of refugees, Lebanon is already suffering the consequences of this conflict,” she said.
Last week, Nasrallah denied reports that members of his group were fighting alongside Assad’s forces, but Rice called on the international community to dig deeper into Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian conflict.
Jeffrey Feltman, U.N. undersecretary-general for political affairs and former U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, said that Lebanese areas near the border with Syria are still threatened by a possible spillover from Syria.
Feltman told the Security Council that the Syrian conflict is spiraling beyond its border, affecting Lebanon……. Israel’s Ambassador to the U.N. Ron Prosor said that by providing Hezbollah with sophisticated arms, Iran is turning Lebanon into an “outpost for terror.”
“Iran has provided Hezbollah with the funds, training and advanced weapons to hijack the Lebanese state and transform it into an outpost for terror,” Prosor said.
Rice referencing Lebanon “suffering” from Syria’s conflict as well as Jeffrey Feltman’s spillover remarks eerily reminded me of spillover warnings from last year in an article relating to tense border issues between Lebanon and Israel.
It follows rising concerns that conflict in next-door Syria may spill into its neighbor, where Lebanese are deeply divided between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime. Lebanese see regional powers including Syria as having sponsored violence in their country in the past, to send messages to each other or to settle accounts.
Meanwhile, speaking of grave consequences, checkout Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor’s alarming warning to UN member states regarding support for Abbas’s efforts to renew Palestine’s bid for UN recognition:
Palestinians made a plea for non-member status, during the monthly debate on the Middle East, renewing their bid for UN recognition. To this Israel’s Prosor responded with a warning. “Every Member State that lends it hand to supporting Palestinian unilateralism at the UN will be responsible for the grave consequences that follow. You will be encouraging the Palestinian leadership to intoxicate its people with fantasy when it needs to sober them up with reality – inflating a dangerous bubble that will inevitably burst. The PA devotes 6 percent of its budget to terrorist salaries and less than 1 percent to higher education. Instead of investing in their children’s future, they offer incentives for future terrorists. Instead of using their funds for nation building, they use them for nation sinking. The EU sends more than 500 million Euros in annual EU aid to the Palestinian Authority. How many taxpayers in London, Paris, Berlin and Lisbon know that some of their money is going to convicted terrorists with blood on their hands?”
Bildt tweeted from the meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg that there was “great concern among EU FM’s about continued Israeli occupation and settlement activities as well as total standstill in peace process.”
So much for scaremongering over Hezbollah and Iran, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has his priorities straight.