Hezbollah's role in Lebanon debated

July 19, 2013 at 12:24 PM
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BEIRUT, Lebanon, July 19 (UPI) -- A Lebanese lawmaker said Friday Hezbollah's military activity is of greater concern than its role in Beirut's political affairs.

Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri this week accused Hezbollah of threatening national security with its decision to fight in Syria alongside pro-government forces. Attacks in Beirut and near the Lebanese border with Syria were associated with Hezbollah's role in Syrian conflict.

The Lebanese government this week asked the European Union to keep Hezbollah off its list of terrorist organizations. The United States lists Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, though the EU has so far been reluctant to do so because it may disrupt diplomatic affairs with Lebanon.

Antoine Zahra, a lawmaker from the pro-western March 14 political alliance in Lebanon, said there was little interest in sidelining Hezbollah from the political environment in Beirut. Hezbollah's "illegal weapons" were the issue for some lawmakers, the official National News Agency reports.

Zahra said Hezbollah was working through a campaign of "intimidation and the use of weapons [on the domestic scene]."

The United Nations helped broker a cease-fire in 2006 between Hezbollah and Israel. The resolution calls on Hezbollah to disarm and embrace the political process, while reminding Israel of its obligation to respect Lebanon's sovereignty.

Hezbollah leaders hold political office in the central government.

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