BEIRUT: Hezbollah MP Mohammad Raad lambasted Friday the March 14 coalition’s memo to President Michel Sleiman on Syria’s violations of Lebanese territory. The lawmaker said it was aimed at covering up the opposition group’s involvement in the 17-month turmoil in the neighboring country.
Speaking at a news conference in Parliament, Raad said the main goal of the March 14 memo was to incite the world against Syria and “team up with the international offensive that is targeting its unity, position and role.”
“This memo aims at covering up the March 14 group’s involvement and participation in the aggression against Syria through money, arms, fighters, media incitement and direct contacts with armed groups in Syria,” Raad said.
“This memo has enhanced our belief that had the Lebanese government been under the administration of the March 14 group, it would have taken Lebanon to war with Syria and also to destruction – something that achieves the goals of this group’s masters,” added Raad, also the head of Hezbollah’s bloc in Parliament.
Hezbollah has repeatedly accused March 14 of serving U.S. and Western interests, and by extension Israel.
In a petition handed to Sleiman Tuesday, the March 14 coalition called for the deployment of U.N. peacekeepers along the northern border with Syria in response to Damascus’ repeated violations of Lebanon’s sovereignty.
The petition, delivered by Future parliamentary bloc leader MP Fouad Siniora, also called for the expulsion of Syria’s Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel-Karim Ali. The memo, signed by 58 lawmakers, demanded considering Ali a persona non grata “for playing a security and intelligence role rather than a diplomatic one” in his capacity as ambassador.
Raad said that despite over 20,000 Israeli violations of Lebanese territory, water and airspace since the 2006 war, the March 14 group did not present any memo to Sleiman or any regional or international body on these violations.
“But this same group handed the president a memo of incitement against Syria containing a host of demands that reflected complete distraction from the Israeli enemy and its dangers,” he said.
“The memo targets Syria in a hostile way contrary to the Taif Accord, bypassing the mechanism and procedures contained in the Brotherhood, Cooperation and Coordination Treaty signed by the two countries,” Raad added.
He criticized the March 14 memo’s demand for the deployment of U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon on the border with Syria, and said March 14 made the same demand during the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon.
“This demand reflects doubts in the Lebanese Army and amounts to a practical rejection of its deployment on the border [with Syria],” Raad said.
“The March 14 group’s memo does not reflect keenness for Lebanon’s sovereignty as much as it reflects this group’s involvement in the hostile American project which seeks to destroy and tear the region apart and sabotage Lebanon.”
Raad urged Sleiman to be vigilant of the “dangers of the March 14 memo’s goals” and to deal with it with “full national responsibility.”
Syria’s violations along the poorly demarcated border with Lebanon have prompted Prime Minister Najib Mikati to instruct Lebanon’s envoy to Damascus to send a letter to Syria’s Foreign Ministry to complain about “the continuous shelling of Lebanese border towns from nearby Syrian military bases.”
Meanwhile, Future MP Ammar Houry hit back at Raad for criticizing the March 14 memo. He said Raad’s news conferences would increase in the coming days to defend the Syrian regime after the suspension of the regime’s satellite broadcasts.
“When MP Raad criticized the March 14 demand for the deployment of UNIFIL on the northern and eastern border, considering it as an Israeli demand, this means that Hezbollah’s approval of [U.N.] Resolution 1701, namely Article 14, comes in this framework because the resolution calls for the UNIFIL deployment on the border with Syria,” Houry told Akhbar al-Yawm news agency.
Ahmad Hariri, secretary-general of the Future Movement, declined to respond to Raad directly, but defended March 14’s memo as “historic.”
“This document can be called historic. Some 58 lawmakers have signed it. We know that when there is something repugnant in the country called Syrian tutelage, its traces remain.
“This memo came to eliminate once and for all the traces of this tutelage,” Hariri told reporters after meeting Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai at the patriarchal’s summer residence in Diman, northwest Lebanon.