Syria flouts Lebanon sovereignty says US
United Nations, October 29, 2010
The United States launched a diplomatic assault on Syria at the United Nations on Thursday, accusing it of joining forces with Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas to destabilise and undermine Lebanon.
The harsh comments from US Ambassador Susan Rice, who accused Syria of arming Hezbollah and flouting Lebanese sovereignty and independence, were immediately dismissed by her Syrian counterpart, who said Rice had her facts wrong.
Rice's remarks at the world body, where more subtle and indirect criticism is the norm, come amid growing fears Lebanon is headed for a political crisis over pending indictments by a UN tribunal expected to implicate Hezbollah in the 2005 killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri.
'Syria especially has displayed flagrant disregard for the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence of Lebanon,' Rice told reporters as the UN
Security Council held closed-door discussions on Lebanon.
'Syria continues to provide increasingly sophisticated weapons to Lebanese militias, including Hezbollah, despite (Security Council) resolution 1680, which calls on Syria to undertake measures against the movement of arms into Lebanese territory,' she said.
Hezbollah remained the 'most significant and most heavily armed Lebanese militia,' Rice said, adding it could not have achieved this without Syrian aid in acquiring Syrian and Iranian weapons.
Like its Middle East ally Israel, which fought an indecisive war against Hezbollah in 2006, Washington has become increasingly worried about Lebanon in recent months.
Washington's frustration comes despite US efforts to push relations with Damascus onto a better track, partly to win greater Syrian buy-in to what it hopes will eventually be moves toward a comprehensive Middle East peace deal.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moualem in New York in September and Washington still hopes to place an ambassador in Damascus, but improvement will depend on Syria's future actions, State Department spokesman P J Crowley said.
'There's a choice here for Syria,' he said.
Syrian Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari dismissed Rice's allegations about Syria facilitating arms smuggling into Lebanon. He also criticised UN Secretary-Ban Ki-moon's latest report on Lebanon for saying UN peacekeepers there cannot verify that no new arms are flowing into southern Lebanon.
'What Ambassador Rice said is ... in full contradiction with a lot of facts related to the positive developments within Lebanon as well as within the whole area,' he said. 'Ambassador Rice gave credibility to wrong facts.'
A UN special envoy on Lebanon, Norwegian diplomat Terje Roed-Larsen, told reporters that 'if the Lebanese situation is destabilised I am afraid that it will have rippling effects across the region.' -Reuters