UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is calling on Iran’s close ally Hizballah to cease its military activities in Lebanon, Syria, and elsewhere in the region, media are reporting.

“The maintenance by Hizballah of sizable and sophisticated military capabilities outside the control of the government of Lebanon remains a matter of grave concern,” Guterres said in a report sent to the United Nations Security Council last week and reported by AFP and AP on May 23.

The Security Council is scheduled to discuss Guterres’ report on May 24.

The UN chief called on the Shi’ite movement “not to engage in any military activity inside or outside Lebanon” in line with a 2004 UN Security Council resolution calling on Hizballah to disarm.

Guterres said Hizballah’s involvement in Syria’s seven-year civil war also violates the Taif Accords that ended Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war, as well as Lebanon’s official policy of “disassociation,” or neutrality in regional affairs.

The Lebanese government must prevent Hizballah from “building paramilitary capacity outside the authority of the state,” he said. Hizballah by some estimates has more fighters and weapons than Lebanon’s own army.

“In a democratic state, it remains a fundamental anomaly that a political party maintains a militia that has no accountability to the democratic, governmental institutions of the state, but has the power to take that state to war,” Guterres said.

The UN report follows elections this month that saw Hizballah’s allies make gains in the Lebanese parliament, cementing the Iran-backed movement’s political dominance.

Guterres called on countries in the region that maintain ties with Hizballah to encourage the Shi’ite group to disarm and transform into a “solely civilian political party.”

Designated as a terror group by the United States, Hizballah has been fighting for years in Syria on behalf of government forces and in Iraq alongside paramilitary groups.

Viewed as a proxy for Iran, it also is accused of backing Shi’ite Huthi rebels in their civil war against the government of Yemen.

Guterres call for disengagement from regional conflicts comes as the United States has stepped up its demands that Iran and Hizballah withdraw from Syria and other regional conflicts.

But international efforts to contain the group over the years have largely failed, including several rounds of U.S. and European sanctions, and a monthlong war with Israel in 2006.

Because of Hizballah’s periodic battles with Israel, the Jewish state has been in an official state of war for decades with Lebanon and the two Mediterranean neighbors do not have diplomatic relations.

Source » rferl