BEIRUT: General Security Friday hit back at critics of Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim, defending his repeated trips to Syria as being officially sanctioned by the Lebanese state to resolve a number of pressing matters including kidnappings.
“Some recent media articles have attempted to drive a wedge between the head of General Security and some Lebanese figures,” the agency said in a statement.
“The goals of these attempts are known and yesterday’s remarks by a former minister on a television channel are part of such a scenario.”
The statement was referring to an LBCI interview with former Minister Wiam Wahhab, the head of the Arab Tawhid Party, who questioned the motives behind Ibrahim’s repeated visits to Damascus and his meetings with Syrian officials.
“The head of General Security would like to clarify that his visits abroad, particularly to Syria, were official trips tasked by Lebanese authorities, namely the president,” General Security said.
“These trips have freed many Lebanese kidnapped in Syria, ensured the release last year of detainee Hassan Srour, repatriated the bodies from the Tal Kalakh incident to their relatives and resolved the Syrian ban on Lebanese trucks,” it added.
Ibrahim held a series of meetings with Syrian officials from inside Syria in recent years which led to the release of 11 Lebanese hostages kidnapped by rebels in Aleppo in May 2012.
Ibrahim’s efforts also facilitated the repatriation of bodies of Lebanese who died in an ambush by the Syrian army in the town of Tal Kalakh in late 2012. The Lebanese were on their way to join the ranks of the Syrian rebels.
The latest mediation attempts by the General Security chief led to the release this month of 13 Syrian nuns who were kidnapped by a Syrian opposition group last year.
Earlier in March, a Lebanese daily hinted that Ibrahim, a Shiite, had ambitions of becoming a Parliament speaker and was seeking Syria’s support. Speaker Nabih Berri has been serving in this post since 1992.
“The question that poses itself is what, apart from personal gain, has resulted from visits by some [Lebanese] officials to Syria in the past decade?” the statement said, in reference to Wahhab.
A staunch ally of Syria, Wahhab was appointed environment minister in Omar Karami’s government in the fall of 2004, when Lebanon was still under Syrian tutelage.
Wahhab, a Druze, often visits predominantly Druze areas in Syria and encourages residents there to support Assad.
In a direct swipe at Wahhab, the statement said General Security did not count on the evaluations of individuals such as the former minister but rather on those of “Lebanese people and authorities.”
“Moreover, the systematic blackmail on television screens pursued by some people will not set appointments for them [in Syria,] with the aim of achieving personal interests,” it said.