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Hezbollah challenges March 14 to present 'vision'

Hezbollah's deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem speaks in front of students at the LU in Hadath, Lebanon, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Hezbollah called upon its rivals in the March 14 coalition to present a political vision to end the three-month political stalemate since former President Michel Sleiman's term ended.

“We advise March 14 to submit a political vision and tell the people what they want,” Hezbollah deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem said in remarks published Monday.

Lebanon has been without a head of state since the May 25 end of Sleiman's term, with lawmakers failing in 10 attempts to elect a successor due to lack of consensus.

“Tell the people what you are doing to address the problem of the country, and what are you positively offering [them],” Qassem told March 14, pointing to the coalition’s contradictory stances on Parliament’s extension.

“You say you oppose the extension of Parliament’s mandate when you are seeking an extension. You have disrupted Parliament under the pretext of electricity workers and its [Parliament’s] illegitimate [role] because the Mikati government had resigned,” Qassem said.

"Rely on your accomplishments and do not count on the achievements of ISIS,” he told March 14 in reference to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

ISIS fighters Sunday captured a major military air base in Syria’s northeast, eliminating the last regime-held outpost in a province otherwise already dominated by the jihadist group, activists and state media said.

Tabqa airfield – home to several warplane squadrons, helicopters, tanks, artillery and ammunition bunkers – was the third military base in the area to fall to ISIS in the last month.

Those victories are part of ISIS’ aggressive push to consolidate its hold on northern and eastern provinces in Syria, while also expanding the boundaries of its self-styled caliphate straddling the Syria- Iraq border.

Hezbollah fighters are fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces in the conflict.

March 14 supports the Syrian opposition but has distanced itself from ISIS and other radical groups fighting Assad.

“We have a good opportunity ahead of us. Grab it in order to reach an understanding and dialogue,” Qassem said, addressing March 14.

“We are outstretching our hand. We are ready for an intellectual dialogue to discuss principles. We are ready for a serious dialogue, for agreements, for commitments,” he stressed.

Qassem, nevertheless, did not have high hopes.

“There are no solutions in Lebanon in the foreseeable future,” he said. "It seems that we will have to wait too long for developments in Syria, Iraq and Palestine, and is not clear how long this period will last.”

 

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Summary

Hezbollah called upon its rivals in the March 14 coalition to present a political vision to end the three-month political stalemate since former President Michel Sleiman's term ended.

Those victories are part of ISIS' aggressive push to consolidate its hold on northern and eastern provinces in Syria, while also expanding the boundaries of its self-styled caliphate straddling the Syria-Iraq border.

Hezbollah fighters are fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces in the conflict.

March 14 supports the Syrian opposition but has distanced itself from ISIS and other radical groups fighting Assad.

Qassem, nevertheless, did not have high hopes.


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