Beirut: US Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton on Friday warned Hezbollah against resorting to violence,
saying the militant group cannot stop a UN court investigating
the assassination of a former Lebanese prime minister.
Clinton`s remarks came in an interview with Lebanon`s
An-Nahar newspaper, published today.
It followed a threat by Hezbollah`s leader Hassan
Nasrallah who yesterday said his group will "cut the hand" of
anyone who tries to arrest its members for the 2005
assassination of Rafik Hariri.
The Netherlands-based tribunal is expected to issue
indictments soon, and speculation that members of the
Iranian-backed Hezbollah could be targeted has fueled fears of
violence and a political crisis in the country. Nasrallah, who
claims the court is biased, has said he expects members of his
group to be indicted.
"Hezbollah should know that resorting once again to
violence in Lebanon runs completely counter to the interests
of the Lebanese people, the interests of the region, and of
the United States," Clinton said.
"They should also know that if the goal of violence is
to stop the tribunal, it won`t work," she added.
Hariri, Lebanon`s most prominent politician after a
15-year civil war ended in 1990, was killed by a truck bombing
that ushered in major political upheaval in the country.
Immediately after the assassination, suspicion fell on
Damascus -- leading to massive protests that ushered in the
end of Syria`s nearly 30-year military presence and domination
Damascus and Hezbollah have denied having any role in
Nasrallah has also urged Lebanese not to cooperate
with the probe. He says the court is an "Israeli project" and
poisoned by "false witnesses" who misled the investigation.
On Thursday, he said the group will defend itself
against any accusation.
"Those who imagine that we will allow the arrest or
detention of any of our fighters are mistaken," he told
thousands of supporters in south Beirut, a Hezbollah
stronghold, speaking through a video link. "We will cut the
hand that reaches out for any one of them."
Hezbollah`s warning puts more pressure on the
Western-backed administration of Prime Minister Saad Hariri,
the son of the slain leader. Many fear the tensions could
bring down the government, which includes Hezbollah along with
Clinton said "intimidation or threats" from Hezbollah
should not be tolerated.
"The problem in Lebanon is not the Special Tribunal
for Lebanon. The problem is that some are threatening violence
in order to try to stop justice," she said in the interview.