BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) – A pro-government Lebanese politician called Saturday for the expulsion of Iran’s ambassador and the ending of Iranian flights to Beirut because they might be carrying weapons and money to the militant Hezbollah group.
Walid Jumblatt, a member of the U.S.-backed parliamentary majority, also warned in a press conference from his family home of Mukhtara southeast of the capital, that he and parliament majority leader Saad Hariri could be targets of assassination.
“Iranian flights to Beirut should be stopped because Iranian planes might be bringing in money and military equipment,” said Jumblatt, an strong critic of the Iranian-backed opposition heavyweight Hezbollah. “The Iranian ambassador should be expelled from Lebanon.” His comments come as Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa ended a three-day visit to Beirut Saturday without reaching a breakthrough in the months-old political deadlock between the government and opposition.
Lebanon is passing through its worst political crisis since the end of the 1975-90 civil war and the parliament has failed 18 times to elect a new president. The country’s top post has been vacant since pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud left office in November.
Jumblatt also accused Hezbollah of monitoring the traffic of politicians’ executive jets with hidden cameras at the airport, possibly to assassinate them.
“I am not afraid at all but at the same time I had to confirm the information before people walk in my funeral or walk in the funeral of Saad Hariri or others because it seems they are preparing for something,” he said. Pro-government politicians have blamed Syria, which backs Hezbollah, for a wave of assassinations that have claimed the lives of about a dozen politicians, journalists and members of the army and police in the past three years.
Syria denies the charges.
Commenting on Jumblatt’s claims about the airport, Hezbollah said in a statement that such comments “translate his nightmares and nervous tension into a media play that includes targeting people and planes in what is closer to imagination or horror movies.”
“These accusations to the resistance movements in the Arab world, including Hezbollah, makes him a propagandist who repeats George Bush’s claims and State Department reports,” the statement added.