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FRIDAY, 18 APR 2014
09:00 AM Beirut time
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Hezbollah: Political understanding needed to save Lebanon
File- Hezbollah's deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem speaks in front of students at the LU in Hadath. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
File- Hezbollah's deputy leader Sheikh Naim Qassem speaks in front of students at the LU in Hadath. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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BEIRUT: Hezbollah’s second in command Sheikh Naim Qassem Thursday warned that Lebanon was on the road to destruction unless rival factions came to a political understanding on the formation of the next Cabinet, hours after a car bomb ripped through a neighborhood of the southern suburbs of Beirut.

“We extend our hand once again to everyone and we say that confronting this criminality should be done through political stability and a political understanding or else things will remain the same,” Qassem, Hezbollah’s deputy secretary-general, told Al-Manar television station.

“Lebanon is on the road to destruction unless we work on a political understanding,” he added.

The car bomb in Haret Hreik, a neighborhood where Hezbollah enjoys broad support, killed four people and wounded 77 others, according to the Health Ministry.

The attack comes only days after a car bomb in Downtown Beirut killed former Minister Mohammad Shatah who was a senior aide to former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the head of the Future Movement.

Without naming them, Qassem also warned President Michel Sleiman and PM-Designate Tammam Salam against the formation of a Cabinet that excludes Hezbollah.

“Taking an incomplete and unilateral step would contribute to the destabilization of the country and contribute to the criminal plot,” he said.

Sources close to the president told The Daily Star earlier this week that Sleiman and Salam would soon announce the formation of a neutral government of nonpartisan ministers, which Hezbollah’s rivals in the March 14 coalition have repeatedly called for.

Qassem stressed on the need to protect the country through “a political understanding and the formation of a national unity government.”

Hezbollah has repeatedly called for the formation of a national unity government.

“Fortifying the local scene will disrupt the safe haven for terrorists and takfiris,” he said.

“The target of this explosion [in Haret Hreik] is the public and not Hezbollah in particular ... there is a general plan designed to target all of the Lebanese without exception even if the explosions have focused on a certain group of people,” Qassem said.

“Those who executed the crime are not important: they are merely idiots carrying out orders,” he said.

“This [incident is part of] a larger plan aimed at destroying the country, inciting strife and weakening Lebanon which has stood in the face of the new Middle East project,” he added.

Qassem said bombings of this kind were indiscriminate, warning that others parts of the country could face a similar threat without a political understanding in place.

“We do not want to trade accusations but to say to everyone that the criminal plot with all its forms and diversity in nationalities will have everyone drinking from the same bitter chalice,” he said.

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