Lebanese minister says Shi'ite group told him it would view cutting of lines as "Israeli attack"; calls move last step in creating Hizbullah nation-state.
In yet another WikiLeaks release of leaked US State Department cables on Sunday, it was revealed that Hizbullah established a complete fiber optic communications network throughout Lebanon, independent of the country's communications system, which he said Iran fully financed.
Lebanese Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh decried the establishment of the separate communications network, calling it "a strategic victory for Iran." Hamdeh said that setting up the fiber optics network was "the final step in creating a nation-state, and that "Hizbullah now has an army and weapons; a television station; an education system; hospitals; a financial system; and a telecommunications system."
Discussing the options of the Lebanese government in countering the independent communications network, Hamadeh said that the Hariri government had two choices: to seek a UN Security Council resolution, or to cut the fiber optic lines. However, the telecommunications minister said he was told by a Hizbullah official that "any move against the FiOS [fiber optics system] would be taken as 'an Israeli attack' and dealt with accordingly."
In statements to US Charge d'Affaires Michele Sison in Beirut, Hamadeh expressed fear for his and other government officials' physical safety for exposing and challenging the Hizbullah communications network. He said that the anti-Syrian, anti-Hizbullah March 14 movement, led by now-Lebanese President Sa'ad Hariri was relaying details of the network to a handful of friendly countries, both in the West and throughout the Arab world.
Hamadeh accused the "Iranian Fund for the Reconstruction of Lebanon" of funding the fiber optics project. He said the same group has been building roads and bridges since the 2006 Second Lebanon War and was using the roads projects as a cover to install the communications lines. Describing the wide reach of the newly installed network, he said the lines run "from Beirut, around both sides of the airport, into the south below the Litani [River] and back up through the Bekaa Valley to the far north." He said it goes through Palestinian refugee camps, Hizbullah training camps, and through Christian areas.
The document notes that in an earlier discovery of a Hizbullah telecommunications network, the government said it "would not tolerate the erosion of its 'last monopoly' by Hizbullah." However, it offers a US analysis that in the latest case, "by sharing as widely as possible the details of the plan, the GOL (Government of Lebanon) may hope that someone else will take on the challenge."
Source : Jerusalem Post