Lebanon News

Geagea: Hezbollah turning Lebanon into Iraq

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea.

BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea slammed Hezbollah Monday as an illegal armed organization, saying that its involvement in Syria’s war had led to the “Iraqization” of Lebanon.

“Hezbollah is an illegitimate and illegal security military organization,” Geagea said.

“In the Constitution, there is nothing referring to ‘resistance’ and not even in the National Pact, this is a falsification,” Geagea told a televised news conference at his Maarab residence.

The LF leader slammed Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s speech last week in which he said that the party’s presence in Syria did not require political cover from the March 14 coalition.

“How are our ties in Lebanon shaped then? Is Nasrallah present in Mauritania’s desert or in Lebanon? You are present in our and your land, and yes, you need our cover because your actions impact us,” Geagea said.

Geagea said that Hezbollah was responsible for turning Lebanon into another Iraq, where citizens fall victim to suicide bombers, as a result of its involvement in Syria’s war.

“Hezbollah’s participation in fighting in Syria has led to the Iraqization of Lebanon,” he said.

Touching on the Cabinet impasse, Geagea said that if both the March 8 and March 14 coalitions had veto power, as proposed by Hezbollah, the political process would be paralyzed:

“We refused granting veto power to one group, but Nasrallah now is proposing a government with veto power to two groups. ... Will this government function? Do we want a Cabinet that can function or be paralyzed?”

Geagea described as “legend” claims made by Nasrallah that Saudi Arabia had urged its March 14 allies to block the formation of a government in which Hezbollah was represented to wait out the outcome of Syria’s crisis and negotiations between Iran and world powers over its nuclear program.

“The only government that can work is one that represents neither the March 8 nor the March 14 coalitions,” he said.

Separately, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon David Hale said that arms should be in the hands of legitimate institutions in Lebanon only.

“The provision of security and control of arms must be in the hands of institutions that are transparent and accountable to the people, not in the hands of factions with their own agendas and foreign entanglements,” Hale said.

Hale’s remarks came during a luncheon held in his honor by the American Lebanese Chamber of Commerce at the Phoenicia Hotel in Beirut.

The U.S. diplomat said there was international consensus on supporting Lebanon’s disassociation policy from war in neighboring Syria.

“There is an international consensus that Lebanon’s policy of disassociation from the Syrian conflict is the right policy, and that Lebanese factions that are violating that policy are putting their own narrow interests and those of their foreign sponsors above the interests of the Lebanese nation and people,” Hale said.

“The United States is a fully committed partner for Lebanon. We want Lebanon to be stable, prosperous, and apart from the conflict in Syria.”

Hale explained that any agreement between world powers and Iran over its nuclear program would not affect his country’s alliances.

“It’s important for people in Lebanon to know – for people in the region to know – what Secretary [John] Kerry has said: That whatever arrangement the international community arrives at, it will not change our alliances or our friendships,” he said.

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt, echoing Speaker Nabih Berri’s statements last week, said that Lebanon was waiting for an external political initiative to break the country’s political deadlock.

In his weekly editorial in PSP’s Al-Anbaa newspaper, Jumblatt said that the entire Lebanese political society had fallen into this deadlock, with dialogue no longer possible.

Saudi Culture and Information Minister Abdul-Aziz Khoja said that President Michel Sleiman’s recent visit to Saudi Arabia was a success.

“The visit of President Michel Sleiman to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was a very successful visit,” Khoja told Lebanon’s National News Agency on the sidelines of the opening of the 41st session of the Federation of Arab News Agencies hosted by Riyadh.

He said Sleiman’s meetings with Saudi King Abdullah, Crown Prince Salman and other Saudi officials were fruitful.

“Lebanon, as you know, is dear to our hearts and be sure that the Saudi leadership and people care about the situation in Lebanon, its stability and prosperity,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, a special round for the General Conference of Arab Parties kicked off in Damascus Monday to discuss the situation in Syria and was attended by pro-Syrian regime parties, including Hezbollah.

Speaking during the event, Hasan Ezzeddine, Hezbollah’s Arab relations official, said his party believed Syria was the target of a foreign conspiracy aiming at undermining its existence.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 19, 2013, on page 3.

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