UN warns Lebanon 'militias' threaten stability
BEIRUT - The United Nations warned on Wednesday that the presence of militias in Lebanon continues to threaten security in the country as well as the region, urging a formal border delineation with Syria.
"The delineation of the Syrian-Lebanese border ... has not yet taken place," read a UN report on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559, which was adopted in 2004 and calls for "the disbanding and disarmament" of all factions in Lebanon.
"More importantly, the existence and activities of Lebanese and non-Lebanese militia continue to pose a threat to the stability of the country and the region," the report added.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in the report he was concerned by recent security incidents in Lebanon, including the explosion last month of a small bomb in a church in the eastern town of Zahle.
"These occurrences confirm yet again the possession of lethal weapons by non-state actors," he said.
Hezbollah is the only Lebanese group that did not disarm after Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war, arguing that its weapons are necessary to fight Israel.
The Shiite militant party has repeatedly warned Lebanese leaders that its arms are not open to discussion.
Hezbollah fought a month-long war with Israel in 2006 during which it fired more than 4,000 rockets on the Jewish state.
Israel estimates that Hezbollah has since stockpiled more than 40,000 rockets, some of which could reach major Israeli population centres.
Palestinian factions inside refugee camps across the country, which are off-limits to the Lebanese army, are also armed.
Ban said UN Security Council member states had provided information on weapons-smuggling across Lebanon's porous northern border with Syria, which, along with Iran, is a major backer of Hezbollah.
The UN could not independently verify the reports.
Ban said Lebanon's failure to delineate a formal border with Syria was largely due to the governmental and budgetary deadlock in Lebanon.
"Government officials in Lebanon have acknowledged the porous nature of the border and the possibility that arms smuggling occurs and over the past three years, and have taken limited steps to confront the issue," he said.
Saad Hariri's unity government collapsed on January 12 when Hezbollah and its allies pulled their ministers from the cabinet in a feud over the UN-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
The Netherlands-based court is tasked with investigating the 2005 assassination of Hariri's father, ex-premier Rafiq Hariri, and is widely expected to indict Hezbollah figures in the killing.