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Lebanon News

March 14 accuses Nasrallah of dumping Dialogue

Officials from March 14 coalition gather during the weekly meeting in Ashrafieh, Lebanon, Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2012. (Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

BEIRUT: The Future Movement accused Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah Tuesday of dumping the only item on the agenda of the National Dialogue when he said that the party would keep its military arsenal in its current form.

In a speech Monday, Nasrallah said that the resistance has no alternative but to retain its arms in the face of Israeli threats to Lebanon, thus blocking the possibility of reaching an agreement on a national defense strategy.

President Michel Sleiman has called for a Dialogue that brings together March 8 and the March 14 coalitions, but after two rounds of talks at Baabda Palace, the sides remain at a standoff over whether a national defense strategy should be on the agenda.

The March 14 coalition insists that the only issue on the Dialogue’s agenda should be the fate of Hezbollah’s arms, a demand that the March 8 Forces have repeatedly shunned. March 8 Forces say their rivals are trying to disarm the Shiite group, rather than develop a way to protect Lebanon from Israeli aggression.

Another round of talks is scheduled to take place on Aug. 16 under the patronage Sleiman.

The Future bloc praised Sleiman’s position on the state’s monopoly over arms, and said Hezbollah’s position demonstrates that the party has no intention of sincerely participating in the Dialogue.

For his part, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said that dialogue with the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Saeed Jalili, would be more productive than dialogue on Hezbollah’s arms in Baabda Palace.

In an interview with Al-Arabiya shown Tuesday evening, Geagea said that he would host Jalili at his residence in Maarab if the Iranian official would accept his invitation.

The LF leader reiterated that any dialogue with Hezbollah on its arms is unproductive since the party is not ready to put the issue up for discussion.

Geagea was the only leader to openly refuse to attend the Dialogue Sleiman called last month.

Geagea, however, said that his hand will always be extended to Hezbollah.

Hezbollah official Ammar Moussawi said that the March 14 coalition “might boycott the dialogue to implement the will of foreign parties.

“They may have received some advice from foreign parties to boycott the dialogue,” Ammar said after meeting Derek Plumbly, U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon.

Separately Future Movement secretary-general Ahmad Hariri hailed the defection of Syria’s Prime Minister Riad Hijab and called on Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati to follow his example and “defect” from the Hezbollah-run government.

Addressing Mikati, Hariri said: “Learn lessons and defect from the government of Hezbollah and [Syrian President] Bashar Assad before it’s too late because the people do not have mercy on those who distance themselves from freedom.”

Hariri’s comments came during an iftar Monday organized by the Future Movement at the Phoenicia Intercontinental Hotel in Beirut.

He slammed Nasrallah’s proposal that Lebanese sects engage in self-censorship to avoid any sectarian friction as hypocritical.

“You in Hezbollah did not stop for one day from pushing Lebanese sects into violence. Moreover, through your policies you forced them to carry guns in self-defense.”

“You in Hezbollah created friction between Sunnis and Shiites ... and crippled the Lebanese economic cycle by occupying Downtown Beirut; and you and your allies ... closed the doors to Parliament and threatened March 14 leaders,” he said.

“Is this the jihad for the sake of God? Is this the road to Jerusalem?” Hariri asked Hezbollah. “Your divine victory has expired. People are demanding a strong and just state,” he said.

Nasrallah has called the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war a “divine victory” for Hezbollah and Lebanon.

“It is time for us to tell you enough is enough: enough adventure and recklessness; enough hostility and sectarianism; enough chaos and failure in the management of the country. Let us live in peace. This is the code of honor the Lebanese are looking for,” Hariri said.

Hariri also suggested that the July assassination attempt of Batroun MP Butros Harb was election-related.

“The purpose of the attempted assassination of MP Butros Harb was to clear the election arena in Batroun for the Energy Minister [Gebran Bassil] in order to ensure his victory and [enable him to] carry on his march toward the presidency,” Hariri said.

Future Movement MP Ahmad Fatfat separately echoed criticism by his bloc, accusing Nasrallah of not believing in national partnership.

“Nasrallah behaves as if he has no partner in this country,” he said.

Fatfat added that the March 14 Forces are “simply asking Hezbollah to hand over its arms to the Lebanese Army which in turn will defend Lebanon in accordance with a national defense strategy.”

“We are not afraid of the resistance. We are afraid that the resistance could turn into a militia seeking power just like when the results of the 2005 and 2009 parliamentary elections were eliminated through the use of force,” he said.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 08, 2012, on page 3.

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