WASHINGTON - Iran may try to distract the international community from its nuclear program by heating things up at Israel's northern border via Hezbollah – dozens of members of the US House of Representatives wrote in a letter addressed to US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton on Friday.
The letter was sent ahead of Lebanese President Michel Suleiman's upcoming visit to the White House, scheduled for December 14, and following the coalition agreement in the Lebanese government allowing Hezbollah to hold on to its arms.
Meanwhile, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri on Friday announced that he plans to hold his first visit to Syria since the death of his father Rafiq Hariri in 2005.
According to the letter, as talks with Iran have reached a dead end, the homes members fear the Iranian regime may try to divert the world's attention from its nuclear program by ordering Hezbollah, its agent in south Lebanon, to open a regional conflict.
The letter went on to say that in light of the increasing number of incidents in southern Lebanon and the capture of an Iranian arms ship headed for Lebanon, they House of Representatives members are highly concerned by the potential for Iranian-sponsored escalation along the Israel-Lebanon border.
The letter was singed by Reps. Mark Kirk and Steve Israel. The two are members of the House of Representative's Committee on Appropriations and their appeal has special significance due to the financial aid the United States grants Lebanon and the fact that Hezbollah, which is on the American terrorist list, has become a part of the Lebanese government.
According to the letter's signatories, despite UN Resolution 1701, Hezbollah has managed to re-arm and increase its strength since the Second Lebanon War, and it now hold power within the Lebanese government as well.
The signatories note that the US government has allocated $200 million in aid to UNIFIL forces in 2010, and an additional $100 million in military aid to the Lebanese government.
Following the granting of financial aid in such great dimensions, the letter read, the American taxpayer has the right to see results. The United States is compelled to us its resources to take action against possible escalation along the Israel-Lebanon border, it said.
In light of the clear violations of UN Security Council resolutions, the signatories asked what actions the administration is taking to ensure the UN addresses these violations.
It continued to say the US must seek to support stronger multilateral efforts to disarm Hezbollah and clear southern Lebanon of Iranian weapons.