BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea has played down fears that the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) which took over control of large territory in Syria and Iraq lately, would gain a foothold in Lebanon, saying its presence is limited to a few individuals and small cells.
“Daesh (ISIS) will not have any political backing or weight in Lebanon because of Lebanon’s mosaics and diversified social fabrics, in addition to the general atmosphere prevailing in the country,” Geagea said in an interview with pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat Sunday.
He argued that the Sunni environment in Lebanon is not a fertile ground for Daesh to breed in, stressing that the “predominantly moderate Sunni situation and surrounding environment makes it very difficult for someone in Lebanon to turn 180 degrees and become a member of Daesh.”
“Daesh will not have any significant foothold, scattered individuals and small cells such as the ones we hear security forces are raiding and arresting every now and then, but no more than that,” Geagea added.
Asked to comment on presidential vacuum, Geagea, who is March 14’s candidate to the top post, reiterated accusations that rival Christian leader, Gen. Michel Aoun, of the Free Patriotic Movement is blocking the election, at the behest of Hezbollah.
“I have proposed to pull out from the race in favor of candidates who would have the minimum requirements and political visions as ours, but Gen. Aoun has only one option -- which is that he be elected,” Geagea said.
Geagea revealed that he had put forward the names of former president and head of the Kataeb party Amin Gemayel and Telecommunication Minister Boutros Harb as plausible candidates to run for presidency, a suggestion that was rejected by Aoun.
“We have not a minimum common political ground with Gen. Aoun,” Geagea said.
“He (Aoun) only wants that we vote for him, but we are not ready to go along with that,” he added.
“Aoun wants to be president and he will do anything that it takes, even if it means blocking the election,” Geagea told Al-Hayat.
Moreover, the LF leader charged that Hezbollah is not in a hurry to end the presidential vacuum caused by Aoun’s unyielding position.
“This situation suits very well Hezbollah, which is not keen on having a president for the republic,” he added.
Lebanon is without a president since former President Michel Sleiman’s six-year mandate expired on May 25. At least eight attempts by parliament since April to convene to elect a successor have been to no avail.