Bolton Disappointed Lebanon Report Omits Iran, Hezbollah

This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.

The New York Sun

UNITED NATIONS – Despite American attempts to denounce Iran’s meddling in Lebanon through a new Security Council resolution, neither Tehran, nor its proxy militia, Hezbollah, will be mentioned in a proposed draft that will be circulated to council members today.

The proposed new resolution instead calls on Syria to accept Lebanon’s plea for demarcation of the borders between the two countries and to set diplomatic relations between them.

Rather than increasing the pressure on Damascus, however, the reference to border redrawing is bound to turn some of the spotlight onto Israel instead. Although the United Nations determined in 2000 that Israeli forces should be withdrawn from all Lebanese territories, the new resolution might bring back accusations that it still “occupies” parts of Lebanon.

The American ambassador to the U.N., John Bolton, has tried persistently to include the reference to Iran in the resolution, which follows a report signed last month by Secretary-General Annan and prepared by his envoy to Lebanon, Terje Roed-Larsen. The report was a triumph for Mr. Bolton because it mentioned Iran in the Lebanese context for the first time.

It called on Hezbollah to disarm, as demanded by past Security Council resolutions, and said that the Shiite organization “maintains close ties, with frequent contacts and regular communication, with the Syrian Arab Republic and the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Much to Mr. Bolton’s disappointment, however, he was unable to convince his French counterparts to explicitly highlight that part of the report in the new resolution. “We’ve worked out a formulation where it will be clear” that the “behavior of Iran in Lebanon, as well as the behavior of Syria, will be covered,” Mr. Bolton told The New York Sun yesterday

The proposed resolution “endorses” Mr. Larsen’s report and calls on “all concerned states and parties as mentioned in the report, to cooperate fully with the government of Lebanon, the Security Council and the Secretary-General” to disarm armed militias, according to a draft seen by the Sun.

France, the co-sponsor of the resolution along with America and Britain, argued that Lebanese politicians want to keep Hezbollah out of the resolution. Instead, they want to concentrate on the issue of Shaba Farms.

Although recognized by Washington as a terrorist organization, Hezbollah is also a political party in Lebanon, where the leadership hopes to disarm the militias through a “national dialogue.”

In his appearance before the Security Council last month, Prime Minister Siniora of Lebanon said that in order to undermine Hezbollah’s reasoning for remaining armed, the council must solve the issue of Shaba Farms, which is held by Israel.

Hezbollah has said that it is fighting to “liberate” Lebanon from Israeli occupation, pointing to its presence in Shaba. After Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, the strategic plateau has been determined by the United Nations to be part of Syria. Its future should be decided in Syrian-Israeli negotiations, the report said, and certified that Israel has already fully withdrawn from Lebanon.

“The object is to assist the Lebanese government,” France’s U.N. ambassador, Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, told the Sun yesterday. “Siniora has asked to focus on the question of the [demarcation] of the boundaries,” he said, and that is what the resolution does. Now “Syria has to deliver,” he added.

In the proposed resolution, the council “calls upon the government of Syria to respond positively to the request made by the government of Lebanon, in line with the agreements of the Lebanese national dialogue, to delineate their common border, especially in the areas where the border is uncertain or disputed.”

In his report last month, Mr. Larsen wrote that if Lebanon and Syria want to declare Shaba as part of Lebanon, they should sign an official agreement between the two countries.

Syria however, has stated that it will only comply if Israel withdraws its forces from the strategic area. “Shaba Farms is occupied by Israel,” Syria’s deputy foreign minister, Feissal Mekdad, told reporters Tuesday. “Syria has never, ever claimed them. Let Israel leave and end its occupation of Shaba.”

According to Syrian Baathist doctrine, Lebanon is not a separate entity but part of a “greater Syria.” Redrawing borders and exchanging diplomatic relations between the two countries will be seen by Damascus traditionalists as a sign of weakness, according to the dissident president of the Washington-based Reform Party of Syria, Farid Ghadry.

“Lebanon was part of Syria and we will restore it with any attempt at partition,” a former Syrian vice president, Abdul Halim Khaddam, was quoted by the Lebanese newspaper A-Nahar as saying in January 1976. “Lebanon will either be united or will be returned to Syria.” Since then, according to Mr. Ghadry, the policy remains – although it is never pronounced publicly.

The New York Sun

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