Hizbullah on Friday denounced a senior Pentagon official's call for a US "strategic partnership" with Lebanon's army, saying American attempts to boost military ties were a ploy for domination and could turn the country into another Iraq.
Washington has dramatically increased military aid to Lebanon's pro-Western government over the past year. On Thursday, Eric Edelman, undersecretary of defense for policy, said the US Wants to make military ties even closer, with a "strategic partnership" to strengthen the country's forces.
Edelman said in an interview with Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. Television that the building up of the military would mean that Hizbullah would have no excuse to bear arms.
His comments came on the same day that a Lebanese newspaper reported that Washington is proposing a treaty with Lebanon that would make it a strategic partner and lead to the creation of American bases.
The Lebanese government and the US Ambassador in Beirut denied the report in the opposition-leaning As-Safir newspaper, and Edelman made no mention of bases in his comments.
In a statement Friday, Hizbullah said the American efforts were "Part of a comprehensive plan to link Lebanon with the American project for the region ... Under deceitful banners such as strategic partnership," it said. Hizbullah accused the United States of "interference" in Lebanese affairs, saying the American plans "and the dangers it encompass could turn the country into another Iraq."