BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt slammed Future lawmakers Monday over their reaction to last week’s Arsal incident which claimed the lives of two Army officers.
“We cannot say Arsal is under a siege by the Army… If we were to talk about any siege, it is the one imposed by some [Future] lawmakers and sons of lawmakers who are taking advantage of the state of confusion within the Future Movement,” Jumblatt said in his weekly column on the PSP-owned al-Anbaa website.
However, the PSP leader hailed Future Movement leader MP Saad Hariri over his call for solidarity with the military.
Following the clashes between residents and the Army in the eastern Bekaa town, some Future lawmakers said the Army is imposing a siege on the town, and called for lifting such measures.
The Feb. 1 incident was triggered by the detention of a wanted man in Arsal, Khaled Hmayyed, by military intelligence personnel.
In what appeared to be a retaliatory operation against the military, gunmen ambushed an Army patrol in the eastern town which borders Syria.
Jumblatt said that Future lawmakers seemed to be disregarding the “important letter” in which Hariri called “for the highest levels of solidarity with the Army.”
The incident prompted widespread condemnation from political and religious figures. Protesters over the week also blocked roads in different Lebanese regions, in a sign of solidarity with the Army.
The PSP leader stressed that Arsal has a “national and historic role,” and that such role should be preserved.
Earlier in the day, Military Investigative Judge Saqr Saqr charged 34 people over the incident and issued a witness summons for the head of Arsal municipality.
Jumblatt also commented on the controversial visit of Cardinal Beshara Rai to Syria over the weekend, saying it would be kept away from “political debates.”
Rai traveled to Damascus over the weekend to take part in the enthronement of a new Greek Orthodox patriarch.
“His visit helped emphasize the need to protect diversity in the region,” said Jumblatt.