ROME, AP – Hezbollah has created a “state within a state” in Lebanon and must be disarmed, Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said in an interview published Thursday.
Saniora told Milan-based newspaper Corriere della Sera that the Shiite militia has been doing the bidding of Syria and Iran and that it can only be disarmed with the help of the international community and once a cease-fire has been achieved in the current Middle East fighting.
“It’s not a mystery that Hezbollah answers to the political agendas of Tehran and Damascus,” Saniora was quoted as saying by Corriere. “The entire world must help us disarm Hezbollah. But first we need to reach a cease-fire.”
Saniora said Lebanon is still too weak to attack Hezbollah’s stranglehold in the south of the country on its own.
“The important thing now is to restore full Lebanese sovereignty in the south, dismantling any armed militia parallel to the national army,” he said. “The Syrians are inside our home and we are still too weak to defend ourselves. The terrible memories of the civil war are still too alive and no one is ready to take up arms.”
The prime minister was quoted as saying that to disarm the militia it is also necessary for Israel to help delegitimize it by releasing Lebanese prisoners and withdrawing from the Chebaa Farms, a disputed territory that Lebanon claims and Hezbollah uses as a pretext to keep attacking Israeli forces.