UNITED NATIONS (AP) 21 March 2018 - The U.N. Security Council reaffirmed its strong support Tuesday for Lebanon's political independence following a report by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres who said "crises in the region continue to pose a risk to the stability" of the country.
In a report circulated this week, Guterres pointed to the sudden resignation — later rescinded — of Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri late last year while he was in Saudi Arabia as one crisis. It was widely seen as orchestrated by Hariri's Saudi backers, who complain that the Lebanese government is controlled by the powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah group.
Guterres also reiterated his call to all Lebanese parties and individuals "to cease their involvement in the Syrian crisis."
Lebanon, with its own history of a 15-year civil war, has a fragile sectarian mix that supports both sides in the Syrian conflict. The country also hosts almost 1 million Syrian refugees.
But Guterres' message appeared clearly aimed at Hezbollah, which has been fighting alongside Syrian government forces.
Under a Security Council resolution passed in 2004, Lebanon's militias were told to disarm, but have not. Hezbollah has instead increased its weapons capacity.
Guterres said unauthorized weapons in the hands of Hezbollah militants "warrants condemnation."
He stressed that those weapons, together with "threatening rhetoric" from both Hezbollah and Israel, "heightens risks of miscalculation and escalation into conflict."
"I call upon the parties to exercise restraint at all times," Guterres said.