BEIRUT: The March 14 coalition stepped up its campaign against Hezbollah, criticizing the resistance group for its alleged interference in the Syria crisis as well as the party’s insistence on maintaining its arsenal.
In remarks published Monday, Lebanese Forces MP Antoine Zahra said his rivals in Hezbollah could no longer claim that their weapons were merely directed at Israel given recent reports indicating its direct involvement in the Syrian conflict.
“The resistance can no longer claim that its arms are to defend Lebanon because it is being used locally and against the Syrian people as well as in an attempt to gain control over Lebanon,” Zahra told Al-Joumhouria newspaper.
Several media agencies carried reports alleging Hezbollah fighters were carrying out operation in Syria and that several had been killed as a result.
Hezbollah has repeatedly denied such allegations but the party has not issued a denial with regards to the recent reports.
Zahra said the resistance was showing poor judgment with regards to the 18-month long crisis in Lebanon’s neighbor and said the party’s actions were antithetical to state-building.
“I expected more wisdom from Hezbollah but its leadership surprised me with their double-standard behavior vis a vis what is happening in Syria via their commitment to arms and its role in the service of Iran which places them in a contradictory position to the goal of state building,” Zahra said.
Hezbollah has urged that Lebanon remain neutral on the crisis in Syria while accusing the March 14 opposition, particularly the Future Movement, of assisting and financing fighters against President Bashar Assad’s government.
Meanwhile, Future Movement MP Ahmad Fatfat predicted that Hezbollah’s political rhetoric would gradually become more aggressive as the party becomes even more involved in the conflict next door.
“Hezbollah’s future political speech will be aggressive to coincide with the military and security plan that it’s heading in Syria after becoming a main party [in the conflict],” Fatfat told Al-joumhouria daily.
“That is what the Syrian people are confirming every day after Hezbollah turned its resistance against Israel to a militia fighting alongside Assad's Shabiha,” he added.
Both Fatfat and Zahra supported recent stances by President Michel Sleiman’s in which the Lebanese leader said the weapons of the resistance should fall under the command of the state while armed groups in the country whose weapons serve an internal domestic function should be disarmed.
Sleiman, who in June launched the stalled National Dialogue, has proposed a national defense strategy aimed at benefiting from Hezbollah’s arms. Under the proposal, the party would not hand its arms over to the Army, as demanded by the March 14 coalition, nor would there be a separate command for the resistance and the military, the defense strategy that Hezbollah backs.
“[Hezbollah] has abandoned chances that wise men have given to the resistance in a bid to balance out their previous mistakes and an attempt to glorify its arms,” Zahra said, adding that his party supported the president’s approach.
Fatfat said Sleiman’s comments should prompt Hezbollah to re-evaluate its position given that the party “is not accustomed to such comments from a high authority like the presidency.”