Hizbollah Deputy Says US Ambassador Should be Expelled from Lebanon
A deputy for Lebanon's Hizbollah movement called Tuesday for the expulsion of US ambassador to Beirut Vincent Battle for saying Washington doubted Lebanese President Emile Lahoud's claim that Hizbollah is not a terrorist group with global reach.
The government "should expel the American ambassador" and Washington should "offer its apologies to the head of state and the Lebanese," Ibrahim Bayan told journalists, saying Battle had "exceeded the bouds of courtesy."
Battle said in a television interview Sunday that Lahoud's contention that "Hizbollah is a local group did not convince the United States."
"Hizbollah is on the list of terrorist organizations because it is considered an organization that carries out terrorist acts and is capable of staging them on a vast global reach," he said.
Battle accused Hizbollah of training groups fighting Israel, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, both radical Islamic Palestinian organizations.
"We concede that Hizbollah has become an effective political force ... but our problem with Hizbollah is that it is an organization that shelters terrorists," he said.
Lebanon has pledged to implement an international convention to block the funding of terrorism, while refusing to freeze Hizbollah's assets as requested by Washington.
On November 2, the United States expanded its list of groups whose assets were to be frozen in the war on terrorism. Among those targeted was Hezbollah.
Lebanon's argument, repeated by Lahoud Monday, is that the group is a local resistance group fighting an occupation army and not a terrorist movement with global reach.
Hizbollah -- sponsored by Syria and Iran -- spearheaded the guerrilla war that led to Israel's May 2000 troop pullout from southern Lebanon after 22 years of occupation.
The group continues to launch sporadic attacks on Israeli troops in Shebaa Farms, a mountainous area at the Lebanese-Syrian borders seized by Israel from Syria in 1967 and claimed by Beirut -- AFP
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)