Pompeo warns against Hezbollah's 'terror and threats'

Visiting Lebanon, Secretary of State says Lebanese people need to stand up to Hezbollah.

Elad Benari, Canada,

Mike Pompeo
Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday called on the Lebanese people to stand up to Hezbollah’s “criminality, terror and threats,” and claimed US sanctions on Iran and its Lebanese Shiite ally were working and that more pressure on them was forthcoming, The Associated Press reported.

Pompeo’s comments were made during a visit to Beirut and were in strong contrast to those of his host, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil who minutes earlier, while standing next to Pompeo, insisted that Hezbollah is “a Lebanese group that is not a terrorist organization and was elected by the people.”

Pompeo, however, warned that “the Lebanese people face a choice: Bravely move forward or allow the dark ambitions of Iran and Hezbollah to dictate your future.”

He added that the US would continue using “all peaceful means” to curb Hezbollah and Iran’s influence.

The US ambassador to Lebanon recently expressed concerns over Hezbollah’s growing role in the new Cabinet, saying it does not contribute to stability.

Hezbollah and its allies gained more than half the seats of the 128-member Lebanese parliament in the election which took place in May of 2018.

In the newly formed Lebanese cabinet, which was announced last month, Hezbollah has named a health minister and two other posts. US officials have called on Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s new government to ensure the group does not receive support from public resources.

Pompeo on Friday highlighted US concerns about Hezbollah’s “destabilizing activities” in Lebanon and the region in talks his with Lebanese leaders.

The State Department’s deputy spokesman, Robert Palladino, said Pompeo highlighted in the meetings US concerns about Hezbollah’s “destabilizing activities in Lebanon and the region” as well as the need to maintain calm along the border between Lebanon and Israel.

Hezbollah is blacklisted as a terrorist organization by the West and even by some Arab countries, but some of those designations, most notably in the EU, make a distinction between Hezbollah’s “military wing” and its political arm.

Britain recently blacklisted Hezbollah’s political arm as a terrorist group, following warnings by MPs that the UK had drawn a false distinction by proscribing Hezbollah’s military wing but not its political side.

This loophole in British law has allowed participants in the annual Al-Quds Day to march through central London to wave the Hezbollah flag, featuring an assault rifle.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)