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Siniora urges Hezbollah to pull out of Syria

Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora carries a Lebanese flag as he attends the 9th March 14 commemoration in BIEL, Friday, March 14, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora Friday urged Hezbollah once again to pull out of Syria, saying the March 14 coalition would only have the state engage in confrontation with Israel in order to defend the country.

“To our brothers in Hezbollah I say: withdrawing from Syria today is better than withdrawing tomorrow. You should learn from history and I will not elaborate any further because the signs are clear,” Siniora said during a ceremony in BIEL commemorating the 9th anniversary of the March 14 demonstration.

“What kind of path are you walking? Return to Lebanon, to your villages in order to save young Lebanese from falling into the fire and horror [in Syria] and return to contribute to building their country,” he added.

Standing in front of hundreds of March 14 coalition supporters and officials, Siniora addressed Hezbollah and said: “You should return to your partners in the nation because you need them and they need you now more than any other time.”

Otherwise, Hezbollah and Lebanon would be burdened with the loss, he added.

Prior to Siniora’s speech on behalf of the Future Movement, the ceremony presented images of the demonstrations of March 14, 2005, which lead to the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon and the end of Damascus’ tutelage over the country.

The head of the Future bloc also said that the people of south Lebanon who have sacrificed much to resists Israeli occupation should not be dragged in battles between the Syrian regime and its people.

He also reiterated the March 14 group’s longstanding stance against Hezbollah’s arsenal, saying: “We will never accept anything but the civil state to confront and face Israel and resist it.”

“We will not accept the control of arms, the arms of the militias and strife, as well as all military and security action on Lebanese soil and outside of Lebanon, which are directed by foreign [parties],” Siniora said.

The Future lawmaker said the March 14 was committed to the decisions from National Dialogue, the Baabda Declaration, the policy of disassociation as well as the right of the state to defend itself against Israel.

“We will never abandon the right of the state to face and confront the Israeli enemy with all legitimate means and Lebanon’s right to sovereignty on its territory,” he said.

Siniora’s comments come as the Cabinet struggles to draft its policy statement, which is at an impasse due to deep-rooted disputes over the resistance clause, which would legitimize the presence of Hezbollah’s arms.

The failure to finalize the statement could prompt Prime Minister Tammam Salam to resign this week, sources close to the issue told The Daily Star.

In his speech, Siniora also affirmed the tight coalition of the March 14 group, saying differences might arise but “there is a single unified vision for Lebanon which rejects arrogance, extremism and violence.”

“Extremism is our enemy and moderation is our approach,” he added, affirming that his party would never bear arms.

Speakers at Friday’s ceremony which also included Kataeb MP Sami Gemayel and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea remembered the March 14 martyrs beginning with former PM Rafik Hariri, whose death triggered the demos, as well as former Minister Mohammad Shatah who was killed late last year in a car bomb attack.

 

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Summary

Former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora Friday urged Hezbollah once again to pull out of Syria, saying the March 14 coalition would only have the state engage in confrontation with Israel in order to defend the country.

Otherwise, Hezbollah and Lebanon would be burdened with the loss, he added.

Prior to Siniora's speech on behalf of the Future Movement, the ceremony presented images of the demonstrations of March 14, 2005, which lead to the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon and the end of Damascus' tutelage over the country.

The head of the Future bloc also said that the people of south Lebanon who have sacrificed much to resists Israeli occupation should not be dragged in battles between the Syrian regime and its people.


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