BEIRUT: Hezbollah’s telecoms network is part of the group’s "security expansion" in Lebanon, the Future bloc said Tuesday, warning that such an approach only exacerbated current problems.
The bloc headed by MP Fouad Siniora also criticized the Syrian regime’s compromise over its chemical weapons stockpile for the preservation of President Bashar Assad’s government.
In a statement read by MP Assem Araji, the bloc welcomed Speaker Nabih Berri’s proposal to launch all-party talks, saying the focus topic should be Hezbollah’s arms and its withdrawal from Syria.
“Hezbollah continues to install and expand its own telecommunications network accompanied by self-security measures in various Lebanese areas which represents an additional obstacle for the state in restoring its authority,” Araji said after the bloc’s weekly meeting.
The controversy surrounding Hezbollah’s telecommunications network resurfaced this week after residents from the eastern town of Zahle protested the party’s alleged attempt to expand their grid Sunday night.
The bloc pointed to the alleged network in Zahle as further evidence that Hezbollah “is confiscating the sovereignty of the state.”
“Hezbollah's continued security expansion is exacerbating the problems which occur in its security areas,” the statement said, referring to disputes at Hezbollah checkpoints in Beirut’s southern suburbs.
The group of MPs also accused Hezbollah of interfering in the affairs of other countries, which they said threatened the livelihoods of Lebanese expatriates.
“This seriously threatens the source of income for thousands of Lebanese families and taints the reputation which Lebanese have maintained for decades,” it said.
The bloc welcomed Berri’s initiative but maintained that dialogue and the formation of a new Cabinet were issues to be dealt with separately.
“The call by Speaker Nabih Berri compliments our view, which sees dialogue a means to find solutions and [the bloc] is awaiting a date to be set by the president to reconvene the dialogue committee," the statement said, adding that the dialogue session should coincide with the formation of a new government headed by Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam.
It also added that such talks should not override “the prerogative of constitutional institutions.”
Last month, Berri proposed a five-day conclave of dialogue sessions attended by March 8 and March 14 leaders, in addition to Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam, to address divisive issues, including the makeup and policy statement of a new Cabinet, a national defense strategy, means to end Lebanese intervention in Syria and the new electoral law.
Berri who dispatched a delegation to explain his proposal to the main political parties argues that his initiative does not override the prerogative of the president and the PM-designate, whose task was to form a new Cabinet.
“This dialogue should only discuss the remaining item on the agenda and whatever issues related to Hezbollah' arms and the need for the party to withdraw its fighters from Syria and end its involvement in the fighting alongside regime forces which would contribute to removing Lebanon from the situation in Syria,” it said.
The MPs also asked the president and the PM-designate to swiftly form a Cabinet to end the ongoing paralysis in order to stop “the economic and financial downturn.”
The bloc, which has been highly critical of the Syrian regime, said the deal between Russia and the U.S. with respect to Syria’s chemical weapons was a step in the right direction to rid the region from the threat of such weapons.
“The bloc considers the deal between Russia and the U.S., which requires Syria to hand over its chemical weapons as a good first step to rid the Middle East of such weapons including Israel's own stockpile,” it said.
It also criticized the international community's “inability” to take measures against the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime on its citizens, saying: “The international community, in general, and Russia and the U.S., in particular, are asked to provide clear and honest answers about the fate of the criminals who killed their people."
“The chemical weapons, that the Syrian people were burdened with under the pretext striking a strategic balance against Israel's nuclear arsenal, were surrendered due to international pressure, for the sake of preserving the regime,” the statement said.