By Nada Bakri
Daily Star staff
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
BEIRUT: Hizbullah's representative in Iran has ruled out the disarmament of his party and said the group will buy new weapons if necessary, in an interview published Monday. "There will not be disarmament, the UN resolution has not demanded that either," Abdullah Safieddine told Shargh newspaper, on the eighth day of a UN-brokered cessation of hostilities that ended Israel's month-long offensive against Lebanon.
His comments came as a Turkish daily reported Monday that Turkish authorities have prevented five Iranian airplanes and a Syrian aircraft from flying into Lebanon, suspecting them of transporting arms to Hizbullah.
UN Resolution 1701 calls for the disarmament of all armed groups in Lebanon and prohibits any sales or supply of arms and related materiel to Lebanon except as authorized by its government.
"God willing, we will have no problem. If anybody wants to resist they will seek to buy arms if need be," Safieddine said. "As long as the army does not have the capability to defend the country we have to defend it."
A member of Lebanon's parliamentary majority, the March 14 Forces, said the Iranian's representative statement is "not worth being taken seriously."
"The Lebanese government is now dealing with this issue and it has unanimously approved Resolution 1701, hence it is committed to it and so is Hizbullah," said Democratic Gathering MP Akram Chehayeb.
Chehayeb said once the Lebanese Army is completely deployed to the South, the question of the occupied Shebaa Farms is resolved and Lebanese prisoners in Israeli jails are released, "Hizbullah weapons will lose their role and the government will be the alternative."
"It is a question of time. We are realizing the resolution step by step and once all that is taken care of, we will deal with the weapons," Chehayeb added.
The UN resolution calls for an Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon and the deployment of Lebanese Army as well as 15,000 international peacekeepers to replace Hizbullah fighters based in the South.
Israel wants Hizbullah fighters pushed back to the north of Litani River - 30 kilometers from the border - in the hope of ending the hail of rocket attacks that were unleashed during the 34-day war.
Safieddine dismissed the call, saying: "Hizbullah does not have a [military] base. It is the residents of South Lebanon. They cannot send them out.
"Hizbullah will remain as it is. We even believe this war made the spirit of resistance more serious. We will do our political work but we will defend our country too."
Iran as well as Syria is accused of channeling weapons to Hizbullah - an allegation Tehran denies, saying it only provides "moral support."
The Turkish newspaper reported that one of the aircraft Ankara forced to land at the Diyarbakir airport in eastern Turkey belongs to a private Iranian airline.
According to Hurriyet and other reports in Turkish media, the aircraft was not allowed to leave Diyarbakir for Lebanon, after US intelligence reports indicated the plane carried three missile launchers and containers with Chinese C-802 land-to-sea missiles, identical to the missile that hit an Israel Navy battleship in July.
The detained aircraft entered Turkish airspace after having been prevented from flying over Iraq. Turkish authorities would not elaborate on whether these actions are part of a new policy.
It is believed that Ankara has acquiesced to American and Israeli requests to impose stricter surveillance on the passage of Iranian aircraft and their cargo. - With agencies