Tillerson Says Hizbullah Part of Political Process in Lebanon

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U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday conceded that Iran-backed Hizbullah is part of the "political process" in Lebanon, appearing to soften Washington's tone ahead of his Thursday visit to the country.

"We support a free, democratic Lebanon free of influence of others, and we know that Lebanese Hizbullah 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," he added.

Tillerson also called on Iran, Hizbullah's regional backer, to withdraw its forces and militias from Syria.

Hizbullah has sent thousands of fighters into Syria to bolster President Bashar al-Assad's forces against an Islamist-led uprising.

Hizbullah -- the only faction to have retained a huge arsenal of weapons after Lebanon's civil war -- is a member of the Lebanese government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

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

The U.S. 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 Hizbullah 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 Hizbullah -- 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.

Comments 7
Thumb ashtah 14 February 2018, 13:10

Tillerson Says Hizbullah Part of Political Process in Lebanon

so is terrorism.

Thumb lubnani.masi7i 14 February 2018, 13:30

great logic!

So if a part of the 'Lebanese' society elects ISIS or Al Qaeda then both become part of the political process;)

Those who made hezbollah part of the political process are aliens to Lebanon. They openly pledge their allegiance to Iran and its terrorist fundamentalist doctrine.

Thumb Bandoul 14 February 2018, 13:56

Mr. Tillerson:

You are indirectly giving the middle finger to at least 50% of the Lebanese population who believe Hizb Allah is exercising total and utter hegemony over them by the sheer force of weapons and terror. By acknowledging them as part of the Lebanese government you are indicating that the US government accepts them as a legitimate partners in Lebanese life. I voted for Mr. Trump precisely so we can properly label terrorists as exactly what they are, terrorists! In case you are a little behind on the state of the union, we got rid of the terrorist loving Obama on Nov 8, 2016. Please catch up or resign!

A US Citizen of Lebanese origin.

Thumb Southern......... 14 February 2018, 14:14

Hezbollah doesn't need your acknowledgement!

Tillerson belongs to a state which supports a terrorist entity like Israel and under-the-table supports Daesh terrorists and amaintaining a retarded regime like the wahabi one.

Thumb s.o.s 14 February 2018, 15:45

Da3is was also part of the political process in Iraq and Syria. So Qaeda is still part of the political process in Yemen, so what? They deserve eradication for the sake of the middle East. Hizbalot is Lebanon's cancer.

Thumb saint-valentine 14 February 2018, 16:33

Don’t forget to take your partner out tonight my loved ones!

Thumb whyaskwhy 15 February 2018, 01:01

A little romantic ride in el da7yi with some midnight jalab at Abu Hasan Malik el jalab in el shiya7...