UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Thursday condemned Hezbollah’s continued armament in violation of UN resolutions and blamed the militant group for jeopardizing regional peace and stability.
In the semi-annual report submitted to the United Nations Security Council on the implementation of Security Council Resolution 1559, Ban repeatedly called on the Lebanese Shiite militia to disarm and limit its activities to those of a Lebanese political party.
Resolution 1559, passed by the Security Council in 2004, called for the removal of foreign forces from Lebanon, the disarmament of non-government militias, and the holding of free elections.
Ban singled out Hezbollah for its noncompliance with the resolution, calling its militia “the most significant and most heavily armed Lebanese militia in the country, reaching almost the capacities of a regular army.”
He specifically condemned Hezbollah’s flying of an unmanned aerial vehicle into Israeli airspace on October 6, calling the move “a reckless provocation that could lead to a dangerous escalation threatening Lebanon’s stability.”
Ban condemned Hezbollah’s insistence upon upgrading its military capabilities for “defensive purposes against Israel,” as “blatant defiance of resolution 1559.”
“The maintenance by Hezbollah of sizable sophisticated military capabilities outside the control of the Government of Lebanon… constitutes a threat to regional peace and stability,” Ban said.
Israel fought a month-long war against Hezbollah in 2006 that decimated the group but also saw the north of Israel paralyzed by thousands of rockets.
The UN deployed a peacekeeping force to southern Lebanon as part of the ceasefire agreement and called on Lebanon to disarm Hezbollah, but many Israeli analysts believe the group has since regained its military capabilities, partially due to the help of patron states Syria and Iran.
Ban gave no indication of what sophisticated military hardware Hezbollah possesses, but acknowledged that it “maintains close ties with a number of regional states, in particular with the Islamic Republic of Iran,” from which it is known to receive arms. Ban called on Beirut and the Lebanese military to “take all the necessary measures to prohibit Hezbollah from acquiring weapons and build para-military capacities outside the authority of the State.”
The secretary-general also called on foreign governments with relations with Hezbollah, and singled out Iran, “to encourage the transformation of the armed group into a solely political party and its disarmament.”
Ban’s report described recent reports of Hezbollah military activity in Syria infighting as credible, adding that such involvement in Syria “could jeopardize [Beirut’s] policy [of dissociation from the Syrian crisis] and ultimately Lebanon’s stability.”