Bassil: U.S. Must Support Lebanese Army in its Fight against Terrorism

Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil said from Washington, there is a Lebanese consensus on the role of the Resistance and Hizbullah in fighting the Israeli enemy and defending Lebanon, but stressed that preserving stability and fighting terrorism are the responsibility of the Lebanese Army, the National News Agency reported on Wednesday.

In an interview in Washington with Henri J. Barkey, Director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and replying to a question about Hizbullah’s intervention in regional affairs, Bassil said he does not “speak on behalf of Hizbullah.”

“There is consensus in Lebanon on the role of the Resistance and Hizbullah in fighting the Israeli enemy and defending Lebanon. The Lebanese have to agree on a national strategy based on dialogue. Preserving security, stability and combating terrorism are the responsibility of the Lebanese Armed Forces, which was mentioned in Lebanon’s ministerial statement,” stated Bassil.

“Lebanon is on the front lines in its fight against terrorism and the Islamic State. The most powerful weapon to combat terrorism is the diversity and cultural and religious pluralism represented by the Lebanese model, which is an antithesis of the IS model,” he said.

“Lebanon is a natural ally of the United States in its fight against terrorism,” he added, “If the U.S. administration is serious about fighting the IS and terrorism, it must support the Lebanese army because it is defending Lebanon and the world, its achievements in repelling and defeating IS attacks on the border are a proof.”

On the crisis of Syrian refugees in the country, the Minister said “Lebanon is incomparable to any other country in terms of absorbing more than it can take of refugees. There are more than 1.5 million displaced people, that is around 200 individuals in a single square kilometer.”

Bassil also met Lebanese-American Congressman and head of the Lebanese-American Friendship Committee Darrell Issa.

Discussions between the two men focused on displaced Syrians, terrorism and the aid to the Lebanese army. He invited Bassil to attend the conference on energy and immigration, which will be held on May 4, 5 and 6 in Beirut.

Issa supported Bassil on the need for the government’s plan to return the displaced Syrians to safe zones in their homeland, said NNA.