The United States has accused Syria of attempting to undermine the stability of Lebanon and the region as a whole, a day after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad alleged that the U.S. was sowing chaos in every nation it entered.
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters in Washington on Tuesday that Syria's recent actions had caused "a destabilizing effect" on Lebanon, referring to Syria's continued arming of Hezbollah militants in Lebanon and the arrest warrants issued against more than 30 Lebanese and foreign nationals.
"We understand that certain actors within and outside Lebanon, including Syria, Hezbollah and Iran, may believe they stand to gain by escalating sectarian tensions in an attempt to assert their own authority over Lebanon," Crowley said.
Stressing that Syria has not lived up to its earlier commitments to strengthen Lebanon's stability, Crowley said the recent activities by Damascus "directly undermine Lebanon's sovereignty and directly undermine Syria's stated commitments to Lebanon's sovereignty and independence."
"So if the issue is who is playing a more constructive role in the region, we stand by our pledge to support a sovereign, stable and independent Lebanon, with strong Lebanese institutions, as the only way to realize the best interests of the Lebanese people and the region as a whole," he added.
Crowley's remarks came a day after Assad alleged in an interview with the Arab daily 'Al-Hayat' that the United States "created chaos in every place it entered," apparently referring to Afghanistan, Somalia and the U.S. military intervention in Lebanon's 15-year civil war that ended in 1990.
Though President Barack Obama recently nominated the first U.S. Ambassador to Syria four years after Washington recalled its envoy in February 2005 following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, relations between the two countries still remain cold.
Following Hariri's killing in February 2005, Damascus was forced to withdraw its forces from Lebanon after three decades of occupation, thereby ending its complete dominance over Lebanon's political and military matters.
Hariri's murder is believed to have been orchestrated by Damascus, and is currently the subject of a United Nations inquiry. Syria has denied any involvement in the assassination and still retains some of its influence over Lebanon's political matters through its Hezbollah allies.
by RTT Staff Writer
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