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Future vows to end Iran’s control of Lebanon politics
File - Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks during a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, Friday, Jan. 14, 2011. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
File - Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri speaks during a press conference at the Presidential Palace in Baabda, Friday, Jan. 14, 2011. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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BEIRUT: The Future Movement vowed Tuesday to end what it termed Iran’s “control” over Lebanon’s political decision-making, pledging not to join a new government with Hezbollah unless the party withdrew from Syria and adhered to the Baabda Declaration.

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea also lambasted Hezbollah, blaming the party’s military intervention in Syria for the rise of the takfiri movement in Lebanon.

The Future Movement’s tough stance was spelled out by MP Nuhad Mashnouq, who delivered a speech on behalf of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the head of the party, at a ceremony commemorating the late Pierre Sadek and Nassir Asaad, two pro-March 14 prominent media figures, held at Geagea’s residence in Maarab, north of Beirut.

“Friends and colleagues, it is time to announce that we have been resisting and will continue to resist an Iranian revolutionary occupation of Lebanon’s decision-making, not only in peace and war, but in minor details of our democratic system,” Mashnouq said.

Referring to the nearly three decades of Syrian domination in Lebanon that ended under local and international pressure in April 2005 following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, he added: “Just as we forced the regime of Syrian tutelage to leave Lebanon, we will force the regime of the Iranian revolutionary occupation to leave Lebanon so that it can remain a country for dialogue, pluralism, democracy, modernity and openness.”

Mashnouq urged all the Lebanese to rally behind this cause, saying his declaration was not merely directed to the March 14 coalition.

“It is a historic opportunity for the Lebanese to try to finally end the situation that took shape more than four decades ago when the state collapsed and was prevented from regaining its full sovereignty despite the end of the Civil War and the withdrawal of Israel and Syria from Lebanese territories,” he said.

Mashnouq blasted Hezbollah’s involvement in the fighting in Syria alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces, saying the group’s intervention had brought takfiri factions to Lebanon.

Addressing Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, who said recently that the party’s military intervention in Syria was chiefly designed to protect Lebanon from car bombs and takfiri factions, Mashnouq said: “Have you asked yourself, or have you been asked, why there were no takfiri car bombs in Lebanon before you proudly announced your military intervention on the side of the Syrian regime against its people who are seeking freedom?” “I know [Nasrallah] will not listen to a Lebanese voice because the Iranian fatwa in his ears is stronger and purer as he thinks. ... But I want to ask him: Have you seen [Syrian] children dying of cold in Arsal and Akkar?” Mashnouq added, referring to thousands of Syrian refugees who fled to towns and villages in east and north Lebanon.

“Did you know, Sayyed, that the killing machine you support in Syria has been forcing them to flee over the past three years?” he said.

Lebanon has been rattled by a string of deadly car bombings in Beirut’s southern suburbs and the northern city of Tripoli recently that killed nearly 80 people and wounded over 500, in incidents directly linked to the 32-month war in neighboring Syria. Last month’s twin suicide bombings that targeted the Iranian Embassy, killing 30 people and wounding over 150, were also tied to the conflict in Syria and blamed on takfiri groups.

Mashnouq reiterated the Future Movement’s pledge not to join a national partnership government with Hezbollah before the party withdrew its fighters from Syria and abided by the Baabda Declaration.

“No matter what limit Iran’s arrogance reached, it will not bind us with a national partnership which we want only based on your [Hezbollah’s] military withdrawal from Syria and commitment to the Baabda Declaration,” he said.

Addressing Nasrallah, he added: “We will not sign a national partnership with you unless you lift your hands off the blood of the Syrian people.”

Mashnouq rejected Nasrallah’s recent accusations that Saudi Arabia was behind the twin bombings that targeted the Iranian Embassy in Beirut. He said that while Saudi Arabia worked for Muslim and Arab unity, Iran was out to divide Muslims in order “to protect its aggression against the Arabs, not Israel.”

Geagea also blamed Hezbollah’s role in Syria for the rise of Takfiri factions in Lebanon.

“Hezbollah’s decision to go to Syria to fight the takfiris brought them home and destroyed another pillar of the Lebanese state,” Geagea said, addressing the same ceremony. “It’s as if what is required is Lebanon’s destruction in order for Bashar [Assad] to triumph.”

Noting that Hezbollah’s fighting in Syria was an Iranian decision and was not authorized by the Lebanese people, Geagea said: “Hezbollah thinks it doesn’t need a popular and political cover for its actions, but the Lebanese people are bearing the consequences of actions not approved by them. Why then does it insist on participating in a Lebanese government?”

“March 8’s behavior and their monopoly over the decision of war and peace, their use of arms internally and their fighting in Syria is what fed the takfiri wave.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 18, 2013, on page 1.
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