Sunday, September 17, 2017

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General 15 SEP 2017


Question:  Yes. On Wednesday, the Secretary-General emphasized the importance of beefing up and supporting the Lebanese army in helping to stabilize the country, but he didn't address the question at the time about the role of Hizbullah, given their influence in the Government and so forth.  So I would like to know whether you could comment on whether the Secretary‑General believes that Hizbullah is playing a constructive role or a destructive role in Lebanon.

Spokesman:  I think issues related to armed groups in southern Lebanon are reported by the UN on a regular basis through its reports to the Security Council. There are also… Hizbullah is also a member of the Lebanese Government.  The Secretary‑General believes that it is important for Lebanon to have strong institutions and a strong national army that can be present throughout the country.

Question:  But given the reported buildup of rockets in southern Lebanon by Hizbullah and its destabilizing activities in Lebanon and Syria, and you're aware of what Ambassador Nikki Haley has said specifically about Hizbullah, I want to try to get some clarity on where the Secretary-General stands in relation to Hizbullah's activities.

Spokesman:  I think… as I said, I would refer you to the various reports that we've issued on the situation in Lebanon, specifically in southern Lebanon and for the Secretary-General, as I said, he believes in a strong… that Lebanon needs strong State institutions, and that all those political parties who are part of the Government should support those institutions, including the national army.  Abdelhamid?


Question:  On Hizbullah, the question that was asked:  The Security Council resolutions say that there should be no armed militias other than the Lebanese army.  Hizbullah is not dividing itself between the political and the military, so isn't there a self-contradictory [sic] in what you're saying, that, on the one hand, there needs to be… or the Security Council saying that there needs to be disarming of all militias, except for the army, and on the other hand, the same organization that is… that has a militia being a member of the Government and you want them to cooperate?

Spokesman:  I stand by what I said.  I don't think I'm capable of self-contradicting myself.  Matthew?

Question:  I don't understand the answer.

Spokesman:  The answer is we report on a regular basis on the situation in Southern Lebanon and what UNIFIL [United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon] observes.  The Secretary-General in his letter to the Security Council said he was looking at strengthening the reporting and the way UNIFIL does its work.  Our position is that Lebanon needs a strong national institution, including a strong national army, that is… has the ability to project itself throughout the country.

Question:  But the army answers to a Government that has a majority of the same party that has the militia, that is supposed to be…

Spokesman:  That is a valid observation.  Oleg?