Williams Warns Syria Unrest May Spark Sectarian Clashes in Lebanon
Political upheaval in Syria, hit by months of opposition protests, is weighing heavily on neighboring Lebanon where it risks sparking inter-religious clashes, U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Michael Williams warned Thursday.
"There is a great worry in Lebanon about this," said Williams, who raised the potential for "confessional clashes in Lebanon."
"What comes after (in Syria) worries in Lebanon," he told a news conference.
Activists say the Syrian government's crackdown against opposition protests has left more than 1,400 civilians dead since mid-March. Thousands more have been jailed.
Ties between Syria and Lebanon are complicated by a lengthy and bloody history. Syria only withdrew its troops from Lebanon in 2005 after three decades of military and political domination.
Williams stressed, however, that the situation remained calm along the U.N.-drawn Blue Line separating southern Lebanon from Israel.
"Remarkably, despite tensions and despite some incidents, that resolution has held very well," he said, referring to U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 that ended hostilities between Hizbullah and Israel after the devastating 2006 war.
"While the cessation of hostilities has held well, there is no movement towards a ceasefire."
Williams said the time was right for "a dialogue, a process to discuss the questions of arms, not only Hizbullah."
There have been frequent accusations from Western powers that Syria has been arming Hizbullah despite U.N. resolutions banning such traffic.