Lebanon Will Not Disarm Hizbullah, FM Says, Despite Gulf States’ Demand To Improve Ties
Lebanon will not disarm Hizbullah, its foreign minister said over the weekend, balking at a confidence-building measure requested by the Arab Gulf countries in order to pursue improved ties. “I am not going to hand over Hizbullah’s weapons nor end Hizbullah’s existence. This is out of the question in Lebanon,” Foreign Minister Abdallah Bouhabib said in an interview with Al Jazeera. He called instead for “dialogue.” Disarming Hizbullah is one of the 10 policy items requested of Lebanon by the Gulf states, in a list delivered to Beirut on Jan. 22 by the Kuwaiti foreign minister. Bouhabib was scheduled to attend a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Kuwait on Sunday and was expected to hand over written responses to the items. Reuters reported on Sunday that the letter would say in response to the item referring to Hizbullah that Lebanon would not be “a launchpad for activities that violate Arab countries.” Hizbullah was founded and is supported by the common regional enemy Iran, and has backed pro-Iran allies such as Syria, and the Houthis in Yemen. Lebanon is in the midst of both a political and a major economic crisis, which has been exacerbated by the rift with the Arab Gulf countries.