Lebanon News

Future: Nasrallah closed door to Dialogue

FILE - March 14 coalition attend a meeting at former Prime Minister Saad Hariri 's residence in Beirut, Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)

BEIRUT: March 14 parties responded Tuesday to Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s attack against the coalition, describing his speech as “escalatory” and accusing him of closing the door to National Dialogue.

The Future bloc of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Nasrallah’s speech a day earlier proved Hezbollah was against resuming Dialogue.

“Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah has returned to accusing others of treason and to classifying people as patriot or traitor, thus putting himself in charge of all the Lebanese and giving himself the right to decide who attends Dialogue sessions and who doesn’t,” the bloc said in a statement.

Addressing March 14 leaders in his speech Monday, Nasrallah said: “If you want to return to the Dialogue table, you are welcome. But if you don’t wish to, may God be with you, there is no problem.”

Nasrallah’s remarks came as President Michel Sleiman continues to face difficulties in his attempts to convene a new National Dialogue session because of March 14’s refusal to take part in any dialogue before the government resigns.

Meanwhile, the Lebanese Forces hit back at accusations made by Nasrallah that some Christians were seeking inter-Muslim strife, saying the violence in Sidon over the weekend was the work of the resistance leader.

“Nasrallah’s accusations aimed at justifying the massacre he carried out in the city of Sidon,” said Wehbi Qatisha, Geagea’s adviser.

He was referring to Sunday’s clashes between supporters of Hezbollah and those of Sunni Sheikh Ahmad Assir that left three people dead, including two of the preacher’s bodyguards.

In a televised speech Monday, Nasrallah accused some Christian members of the March 14 coalition of trying to drag Lebanon into a Sunni-Shiite conflict and called on Lebanese to be vigilant at this “very sensitive” time in the region.

Qatisha said Christian parties in the March 14 alliance were unarmed.

“March 14 Christians do not have a private militia, nor a state within the state,” Qatisha stressed.

Regarding Nasrallah’s accusations of treachery, the LF official said: “If they want to show who the real [Israeli] spy is let him [Nasrallah] sit face to face with the Lebanese Forces.”

Nasrallah proposed inviting parties who have fought Israel in the past to the Dialogue table, saying such parties had more privileges to discuss a defense strategy for Lebanon than others whom he claimed had been Israel’s allies in the past, hinting at the Lebanese Forces.

Nasrallah said Hezbollah was making a concession by accepting to sit with such parties at the same table.

Lebanese Forces MP Antoine Zahra fired back at Nasrallah Tuesday, saying: “It is the LF that is making a concession by accepting to sit with assassins on the same table.”

The LF, as well as other March 14 parties, accuse Hezbollah of being behind several killings and assassination attempts that have targeted March 14 politicians.

The last such accusation was made by LF chief Samir Geagea following the assassination of Internal Security Forces intelligence chief Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan.

Zahra told MTV television station Hezbollah’s accusation that some Christian parties of the March 14 coalition were trying to instigate Sunni-Shiite strife was completely baseless.

“In fact, Hezbollah is responsible for instigating such strife by taking part in killing the Syrian people under the pretext that there were Lebanese Shiites in Syria who are fighting to defend themselves against others,” Zahra said.

For his part, Future Movement MP Jamal Jarrah slammed Nasrallah over “his efforts to legitimize its weapons.”

“Hezbollah wants to give legitimacy to its weapons through dialogue,” Jarrah said.

“Sayyed Nasrallah proved yesterday ... that his weapons are a red line.”

Jarrah said that March 14 was only willing to sit at the Dialogue table with Hezbollah when the resistance group was ready to discuss its arsenal.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 14, 2012, on page 3.




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