BEIRUT: Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel hit back at Hezbollah in comments published Monday over the party’s “private security” measures, adopted in the aftermath of two deadly car bombs in the southern suburbs of Beirut, warning that the step served only to divide the country.
“Private security is unacceptable because it means partitioning the country,” he told An-Nahar newspaper.
He also rejected claims security forces in the country were unable to fulfill their mandate.
“There have been remarkable achievements currently represented in the prompt arrest of 6,070 individuals for various crimes,” Charbel said.
The minister argued that the state was carrying out its duties “despite the tremendous burden on the [Lebanese] Army and Internal Security Forces.”
On Sunday, Hezbollah Deputy Secretary-General Sheikh Naim Qassem said shortcoming by the state’s security apparatuses compelled the resistance group to adopt measures to protect the densely populated southern suburbs of Beirut.
The Hezbollah official said the party had to carry out its own security measures in the southern suburbs after it had been told by chiefs of Lebanese security agencies that they are unable to protect the area.
Charbel, who recently launched an initiative to tackle the growing security concerns following a spate of deadly car bombings in the capital and the north, said the move to boost municipal police forces and provide enhanced security across Lebanon was “yielding positive results.”
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea also took a swipe at Hezbollah, describing its private security measures as “the most serious” issue facing Lebanon amid regional turmoil and the country’ s deteriorating social and living conditions.
“The danger lies in Hezbollah’s checkpoints and [security] measures in the southern suburbs and other areas under its influence,” Geagea told An-Nahar.
By doing so, he said, Hezbollah has “hijacked the sovereign right of the state and broke the will of the majority of Lebanese through the use of weapons under the pretext that legitimate security agencies are unable to protect Hezbollah and its areas of influence.”
Geagea argued that the feeling of insecurity in Hezbollah’s strongholds “is a reaction to Hezbollah’s adventures here and there and because the state is turning a blind eye to these adventures,’ referring to the party’s military involvement in neighboring Syria.
The LF leader called on Hezbollah to withdraw from Syria and hand over its arsenal to the Lebanese Army.
Hezbollah has sent fighters to fight alongside troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad in his more than two-year old war against rebels trying to topple him.
Geagea also urged President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam to form a government “because this is the only way to save Lebanon.”
“Parliamentary blocs have to move and assume their responsibilities,” he said.
“We cannot leave the country without a government because Hezbollah wants a government totally under its control,” Geagea said.
The only possible solution, he added, rests in a government that excludes both March 14 and March 8.