Lebanon News

Aoun warns of worsening security situation

FPM leader Michel Aoun attends the weekly meeting in Rabieh, Friday, April 5, 2013. (The Daily Star/Charbel Nakhoul, HO)

BEIRUT: MP Michel Aoun warned in remarks published Sunday of a worsening of the country’s security situation and urged rival politicians to hold talks in order to ease tensions.

“We are going through a very dangerous phase, particularly after the end of Ramadan,” Aoun told An-Nahar.

“If we truly want to [keep] this nation, then each one of us should accept not a solution to the crisis but an understanding at least on security issues first,” he added.

He said a calm security situation would pave the way for discussions on political issues or else “things will become even more complicated” and the country would be endangered.

Lebanon has witnessed a series of security incidents recently, including the car bombing of Bir al-Abed, a Hezbollah stronghold, earlier this month and the targeting of a Hezbollah convoy in east Lebanon.

Aoun’s warning comes days after Hezbollah’s chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah also said Lebanon was going through a new and dangerous phase and that security incidents could occur anywhere in the country.

The FPM also confirmed during the interview that he had held recently talks with Nasrallah on “specific and general topics.” However, he refused to elaborate any further.

“There were some contentious issues related to domestic politics but not with them [Hezbollah] and they're over now,” he said, apparently referring to disputes with Speaker Nabih Berri over extending the terms of Parliament and the Army commander.

Aoun, who heads the Change and Reform bloc, also defended Hezbollah’s involvement in the Homs town Qusair, where members of the resistance group fought alongside regime forces against rebels.

“Going into Qusair was imposed by the Lebanese reality as a result of the paralysis on the Lebanese border and due to armed operations between Lebanon and Syria which could have resulted in a civil war in [east Lebanon’s] Arsal, [particularly] following the [sectarian] tit-for-tat kidnappings,” he said.

He also described his ally’s role in Qusair necessary in order to prevent a civil war, saying his party was against intervention in principle “but the series of security incidents forced officials to intervene.”

Concerning his ties with Hezbollah, Aoun reiterated that the resistance group was needed given the inability of security forces to defend against any possible Israeli aggression.

“We are with the resistance as long as Israel threatens us daily and we have demands beyond the maritime borders and as long as our armed forces are not ready to take up these tasks because they are making them work inside more than outside,” the former Army general said.

“The resistance should stay to act as a deterrence force against Israel and which would make aggression against Lebanon a costly operation and this is the main point in the memorandum of understanding,” he added, referring to an understanding brokered between the FPM and Hezbollah.

On the stalled process of forming a new government under Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam, Aoun was adamant that the upcoming Cabinet represent parliamentary blocs.

He rejected a fait accompli government, saying: "If we had refused to participate in the government then he [Salam] would have the right to do that but he doesn't because we represent the Lebanese people.”

He also said that he would have to agree first on which ministerial portfolios would be allocated to his party before he offers Salam a list of possible candidates for the positions.

“If the situation remains the same, he [Salam] should then apologize and step down,” Aoun said.





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