First Published: 2018-02-14

Tillerson: Hezbollah is part of Lebanon's 'political process'
Despite being branded a "terrorist" organisation by US and economic sanctions, Hezbollah plays decisive role in region.
Middle East Online

Hezbollah supporters rally in area of Fatima's Gate in Kfar Kila on Lebanese border with Israel, Feb 10, 2018.

AMMAN - US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday conceded that Iran-backed Hezbollah is part of the "political process" in Lebanon, appearing to soften Washington's tone ahead of a visit to the country.

"We support a free, democratic Lebanon free of influence of others, and we know that Lebanese Hezbollah is influenced by Iran. This is influence that we think is unhelpful in Lebanon's long-term future," Tillerson said at a press conference in Jordan.

"We also have to acknowledge the reality that they also are part of the political process in Lebanon."

Shiite movement Hezbollah -- the only faction to have retained its weapons after Lebanon's civil war -- is a member the Lebanese government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Despite being branded a "terrorist" organisation by the United States and targeted with economic sanctions, Hezbollah has risen to play a decisive role in regional conflicts including Syria.

The US Justice Department in January announced the creation of a special task force to investigate what it called "narcoterrorism" by the powerful movement.

The United States levied sanctions in early February against six individuals and seven business with alleged links to Hezbollah financier Adham Tabaja.

The group's influence was last year at the heart of a political crisis in Lebanon that saw Hariri quit -- and then later rescind his resignation -- amid a tug-of-war between regional titans Iran and Saudi Arabia.

In the wake of the crisis Lebanon's political players -- including Hezbollah -- agreed to stick to the country's official policy of "disassociation" to stay out of regional conflicts.

Tillerson is due to meet Lebanon's political leadership Thursday as part of a tour of the Middle East.

 

Iran's Ahmadinejad calls for immediate free elections

Russia pours cold water on UN bid to condemn Iran over missiles to Yemen

Saudi Arabia to boost entertainment in next decade

Merkel calls for end to 'massacre' in Syria

Saudi Arabia to host first Arab Fashion Week

Palestinian dies after being shot by Israeli soldiers

Gulf states urge Syria to end Ghouta violence

Wanted Bahraini militants die at sea en route to Iran

Iraq urges FIFA to lift ban on hosting internationals

Carnage of Ghouta's bombs breaking families

Blockaded Gaza Strip forced to pump sewage into sea

African migrants start hunger strike over Israel expulsion

UN chief 'deeply alarmed' by Eastern Ghouta violence

Three militiamen killed in Libya car bomb attack

Russia denies ‘groundless’ accusations of role in Ghouta killings

Turkey says whoever helps YPG is 'legitimate target'

Morocco dismantles IS-linked terrorist cell

Turkey urged to end gas standoff with Cyprus

PKK attack near Iraq kills 2 Turkish soldiers

Netanyahu confidant to testify against him

Iran emergency teams recover bodies from plane crash site

Ten dead in more Syrian regime strikes on East Ghouta

Bahrain activist sentenced to 5 years for Yemen tweets

Lebanese president makes landmark visit to Iraq

US declares readiness to talk Mideast peace

Bloodbath in Syria's eastern Ghouta

Abbas calls for peace conference in rare UN speech

Egyptian court adds leading government critic on terror list

Yemen government offensive threatens heritage site

Turkey considering chemical castration for child abusers

45 civilians killed in air strikes on rebel enclave

Cairo sheds Ottoman-era street names amid Egypt-Turkey crisis

New woes for Israeli PM in fresh graft cases

Maghreb countries wary about jihadists relocating from Iraq, Syria

Erdogan says Turkey will besiege Afrin "swiftly"

Turkey releases leading pro-Kurdish politician

5 Iranian police killed in Sufi protests

Iran finds wreckage of crashed plane on top of mountain

Israel’s gas contract with Egypt: deal or no deal?

Somalia appoints new police, intelligence chiefs

Iran plane crash rescue search halted for second night

France reaffirms commitment to Iran nuclear deal

Turkey warns Syria against protecting Kurds

Abbas warms up to Moscow amid cold US-Palestinian ties

Israel strikes 'historic' gas contract with Egypt