Lebanon News

GCC to take measures against Hezbollah loyalists

Relatives of Hashem Salman react during his funeral in Adloun, Monday, June 10, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

BEIRUT/ADLOUN, Lebanon: The Gulf Cooperation Council announced Monday it would take measures against Hezbollah loyalists’ residencies as well as against their financial and trade transactions. The GCC urged the Lebanese government to “shoulder its responsibilities” regarding “Hezbollah’s behavior and its illegal and inhumane practices in Syria and the region.”

“The GCC strongly condemns Hezbollah’s blatant intervention in the crisis in Syria which caused the death of civilians,” said a statement carried by the state-run Saudi Press Agency.

The GCC said Hezbollah’s responsibility for the loss of Syrian lives had “uncovered the nature of the party and its true goals that go beyond the borders of Lebanon and the Arab world.”

“Hezbollah’s illegal intervention and the horrific practices of its militias in the region will harm its interests in GCC countries,” said the statement. “The GCC council decided to take measures against Hezbollah loyalists’ residencies as well as their financial and trade transactions.”

Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet also condemned the Lebanese group Monday for its “flagrant” military intervention in the conflict in Syria in support of President Bashar Assad, according to SPA.

Hezbollah fighters openly spearheaded a 17-day assault on the Syrian town of Qusair near the Lebanese border which culminated with its recapture from the rebels last Wednesday.

Saudi Arabia is the largest of the six members of the GCC.

The Damascus government accuses the kingdom and neighboring Qatar of arming the rebels.

In Lebanon, the death of an anti-Hezbollah protester over the weekend continued to generate condemnations.

Hashem Salman, 28, who was shot and killed at a rally outside the Iranian Embassy Sunday while protesting Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian conflict, was laid to rest Monday in his hometown of Adloun in south Lebanon.

Salman’s siblings who live abroad in Europe and the U.S. traveled to Beirut to attend the funeral. Dina – Salman’s mourning sister – fainted several times standing next to his coffin crying.

“My brother is a hero,” she hollered as some of his family members and friends fired shots in the air. “My brother was betrayed.” President Michel Sleiman called on Hezbollah and the Iranian Embassy Monday to assist in the investigation into Salam’s death, while politicians condemned the killing and protest attack that took place outside Tehran’s mission in Beirut.

“Sleiman stressed the need for citizens and parties in the area, particularly Hezbollah and the Iranian Embassy, to assist the competent agencies in their mission to uncover the details and circumstances [surrounding the crime],” said a statement from Sleiman’s office.

According to the statement, Sleiman also met with Iranian Ambassador Ghazanfar Roknabadi and discussed the incident that led to Salman’s death.

A small group of protesters from the Lebanese Option Party, headed by Shiite politician Ahmad al-Assad, were attacked by Hezbollah supporters with sticks and guns when they arrived outside the embassy in Beirut for a scheduled protest.

The young men wearing black with yellow armbands beat and shot at the protesters almost immediately after they got off a bus in Beirut’s southern suburb.

Several other protesters were wounded in the attack.

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri Monday condemned Salam’s death and said the Lebanese people opposed the resistance group’s intimidation methods.

A statement issued from Hariri’s office said the denunciation came in a telephone call to Asaad, whose party is a staunch critic of Hezbollah.

Hariri “condemned the attack, which was organized by entities affiliated with Hezbollah near the Iranian embassy yesterday [Sunday],” the statement said.

The head of the Future Movement stressed that the Lebanese oppose the “methods of intimidation against opinion-makers.”

“The Lebanese will certainly not accept an Iranian style whereby Hezbollah areas become security protectorates,” Hariri told Asaad, according to the statement.

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt also denounced the incident outside the Iranian Embassy, calling it a “barbaric” act.

“What happened around the Iranian Embassy and led to the killing of one of the protesters is denounced,” the PSP chief said in his weekly comments published on the Al-Anbaa website. “Apart from the barbaric way the attack occurred through the use of sticks and batons as done in centuries past, it raises big questions about the aims and goals [of the attack].”

“The political divisions between the Lebanese, no matter how deep they get ... cannot abolish the right to political diversity and freedom of expression,” he said.

Jumblatt also accused the Iranian Revolutionary Guard or their allies of being behind the attack.

“We ask that investigations into the killing of Hashem Salman be completed after he was beaten up by unidentified assailants who are, however, very well known [of being] either members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard or one of their satellites,” he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 11, 2013, on page 1.




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