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Mark Malloch Brown
A top United Nations official says to quiet the “demons” across the “wider Islamic world” the United States and the international community must respect Hezbollah as a political party, not a terrorist organization.
“Everybody would want a solution here which takes away the recruiting power of Hezbollah in the broader Arab world,” said Mark Malloch Brown, the U.N.’s deputy secretary general.
That would be one, he said, that “allows Hezbollah a political as against a militia future inside an independent Lebanon.”
His comments were in an interview published in the Financial Times today.
The military conflagration in the Mideast going on now was sparked by Hezbollah’s military attack on Israel, and Brown said if Hezbollah and its supporters are given that political acknowledgement the motivation for military attacks would decline.
As WorldNetDaily reported, Hezbollah’s “recruitment” ability is such that it is being supplied with weaponry by a range of other organizations in the Middle East.
“If those issues can be addressed, then the support for a militarized Hezbollah falls away,” Brown said. “Without that action, there’s no hope.
“The idea that there is a peace which either Hezbollah would respect, or which would draw the wind out of Hezbollah’s sails which doesn’t address those political things is, I think, far-fetched,” he said.
A “settlement” that allows the integration of Hezbollah into the family of recognized interests is needed. It would, he said, have to address the political issues of Hezbollah’s cause, “as well as the military one” and would include a disarmament and reintegration plan.
After all, he said, “Hezbollah now is the principle voice of Shia Muslims in Lebanon – something like 40 percent of the population. That gives them immense power as a political party if they were to forsake the military route.”
He said, for example, the issue of the Shebaa farms needs to be resolved, and that would in a broader way address Lebanon’s sovereignty and define Hezbollah as a participant.
Shebaa farms is a region of about 14 square miles of land where Syria, Lebanon and Israel share borders. The region was taken by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967 and is cited by Hezbollah in justifying its attacks.
But Brown said there are many “actors” in the Middle East now, “whose acquiescence is needed if we’re to find a solution.”
In addition to Israel and Lebanon, and Hezbollah as a political influence, Syria and Iran also have to be participants in a resolution, he said.
“When people talk about the dangers of this spreading or not, I don’t think the real danger is some kind of formal involvement of Syria and Iran, and the war regionalizing in that sense so much as it is this dangerous radicalizing of the whole Arab-Islamic world,” he said.
“We feel very strongly that before this process is over that Syria needs to be consulted and brought in some way or other informally or otherwise as a party to this agreement. Its concurrence will be necessary,” he said. “From day one, this has been much more of a political war than a military war in terms of how you define victory.”
Brown said the Israeli military in its efforts to defang Hezbollah has attacked civilian locations in order to “dig these military assets from amidst civilians,” but that still doesn’t justify the level of civilian casualties. At the same time, Hezbollah has been virtually indiscriminate in its attacks, he said.
“It is making no effort to hit military targets; it’s just a broadside against civilian targets,” Brown said.
The U.S. and United Kingdom both carry “baggage” in the Middle East and now should provide support in the background and allow others to lead.
“The U.S. is a critical broker of peace, a vital partner to make this happen, but it’s got to find others to do this with – countries such as France, others would be drawn into a peacekeeping effort, Turkey, Egypt, Jordan, there’s got to be an outreach to Syria and Iran even if it is not by the U.S.,” he said.
Brown said Iran, which this week rejected pleas from the U.N. and confirmed it will continue trying to enrich uranium in its nuclear program, also is in a similar situation, “wanting a normalization of its relationships and to be brought back into the international community.”
“We need to understand Iran’s principle diplomatic objective across both of these issues: respect,” he said.