Visit by US delegation to border area causes confusion

masnaa border area

A visit by a US security delegation to the Masnaa border area created a lot of confusion in Lebanon specially since this visit comes after the reports of Scud missiles being shipped from Syria to Hezbollah.

Al-Markaziya news agency quoted an unnamed US official as saying that the US security delegation’s Wednesday visit to the Masnaa border area took place on the invitation and in coordination with the Lebanese government.

However, according to various reports, the visit was secret and took place without the knowledge of the Lebanese cabinet.

The source added that the US officials are part of an assessment team from the Counterterrorism Office, which, he added, provides trainings to the Lebanese security forces on how to deal with terrorism.

The team is in Lebanon to assess the current and past training programs administered by Washington, Al-Markaziya quoted the source as saying.

The source also denied reports that the trip was to inspect the border crossing.

Foreign affairs

The Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement on Thursday that it was not informed of the US security delegation’s visit to the Masnaa border area. The ministry in its statement added that such acts violate Article 41 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which stipulates that all diplomatic missions should respect the laws and regulations of the receiving state and should not interfere in its internal affairs.

Hezbollah

Hezbollah MP Hasan Fadlallah told the daily As-Safir in remarks published Thursday that the violation coincided with U.S. accusations that Iran and Syria were arming Hezbollah with sophisticated missiles as well as continuous Israeli threats against Lebanon.

“How can a sovereign state allow a U.S. security service to inspect the border and give it sensitive information about border security”? Fadlallah asked

He warned that Israel has access to all information obtained by the US, asking, “Who will be held responsible if the Masnaa area is targeted [by the Jewish State] in the future?”

Sakr

March 14 is complaining also. Lebanon First bloc MP Okab Sakr said he will submit a complaint to the US Embassy in Lebanon pertaining to the US security delegation’s Wednesday visit to the Masnaa border area if it turned out that the Lebanese government was unaware of the trip, LBCI television reported on Thursday.

Sakr said that even Internal Security Forces (ISF) Director General Ashraf Rifi did not know the visit took place.

“Who gave the US officials permission to visit the border? And how did Lebanese officers provide the officials with information?” he asked.

Sakr also urged all parties to help uncover the matter.

Media

Local media said the U.S. officers, who were accompanied by a security staffer from the U.S. embassy, visited the Masnaa border area on Wednesday, asking a series of questions about the border crossing.

They said the questioned focused on finding out what the border needs and how to provide technical and modern equipment to enhance border control and the process of entry of individuals and trucks.