Men and weapons flowing across border into Lebanon, says Larsen

Posted in Broader Middle East | 27-Oct-05 | Source: The Daily Star (Lebanon Edition)

UN report welcomes dialogue about disarmament

UNITED NATIONS: Weapons continue to flow across the Syrian border to Palestinian groups and others in Lebanon, despite the Lebanese government's efforts to crack down and assert its authority, a new UN report said on Wednesday. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan presented his second semi-annual report to the Security Council on the implementation of Resolution 1559, prepared by UN special envoy Terje Roed-Larsen Wednesday, in which he said: "There is an increasing influx of weaponry and personnel from Syria to some of these groups."

The report also says the Beirut government informed Annan that it had detained a number of infiltrators "of Palestinian origin who carried Syrian identification documents."

But the report said that Syria acknowledged that arms and people were being smuggled back and forth over the border.

"The government of Syria has informed me that the smuggling of arms and people across the Syrian-Lebanese border does indeed take place, albeit in both directions," Annan said.

The report added the "continued existence of armed groups defying the control of the legitimate government which by definition is vested with a monopoly on the use of force throughout its territory, is incompatible with the restoration and full respect of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence of the country."

But the report stressed that the demand for a Syrian military withdrawal has been met.

UN Security Council Resolution 1559, adopted on September 2, 2004, aimed at ending Syrian domination of Lebanon and extending the government's authority through the disarmament of Lebanese resistance group Hizbullah and the 12 Palestinian groups present within and outside refugee camps.

Larsen said the thorny issue of disbanding and disarming all Lebanese and non-Lebanese militias was now being discussed among the Lebanese and between the Lebanese and the Palestinians.

Larsen said the Lebanese government had assured him it was committed to disarming Hizbullah. Yet he noted that the government has included Hizbullah, which is also a political party, in the Cabinet.

"The carrying of arms outside the official armed forces is impossible to reconcile with the participation in power and in government in a democracy," Larsen wrote.

When contacted by The Daily Star, Hizbullah said they needed time to read over the report and would provide a comment on Thursday.

"I am encouraged by my dialogue with the government of Lebanon on the extension of its control over all of Lebanon's territory," Larsen noted. "Tangible results are yet to be achieved in these two fields and I will continue my efforts in this regard."

The report said many Lebanese continue to view it not as a militia but as a "legitimate resistance movement" fighting for "the liberation of the Shebaa Farms area from Israeli occupation."

"This interpretation of the status of the Shebaa Farms ... continues to stand in stark contrast to the position of the United Nations," Larsen said, reaffirming his view that Israel had complied with UN resolutions that it "withdrawal its forces from all Lebanese territory."

"Therefore, any Lebanese 'resistance' to "liberate" the area [Shebaa] from continued Israeli occupation cannot be considered legitimate," the report said.

The small mountainous Shebaa Farms territory lies at the convergence of the Lebanese-Syrian-Israeli borders. Israel captured the area during the 1967 war. - Agencies