Lebanon News

Sleiman plan can prevent strife: Jumblatt

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt said Monday that resuming National Dialogue and adhering to President Michel Sleiman’s national defense strategy would prevent the spread of sectarian discourse in Lebanon.

“The return to National Dialogue and affirming the articles mentioned in the president’s national defense strategy pulls the country out of sectarian bickering,” Jumblatt said in his weekly editorial in the PSP’s Al-Anbaa newspaper.

“The defense strategy is capable of correcting the aim of the weapons, so that they are turned against Israel to defend Lebanon only, under the command of the Lebanese state,” he added.

During a Dialogue session last year, Sleiman proposed a national defense strategy under which Hezbollah would keep its arms but under the command of the Lebanese Army.

Jumblatt said resistance against Israel could not be monopolized by one group because it was launched by the National Movement, a coalition of leftist parties, and by other political parties. The resistance was continued by Hezbollah, which made “heroic” gains, he added.

He highlighted the need to prevent “suspicious” strife from erupting in the city of Sidon, where tension between Hezbollah and Sheikh Ahmad Assir has reached heightened levels recently.

“This [preventing strife] cannot be achieved through blocking roads and closing down the city but through restoring the state’s prestige by handing over those accused of killing the companions of one of the city’s residents to the judiciary,” he said.

Last year, two supporters of Assir were killed along with an Egyptian bystander during clashes with Hezbollah in Sidon.

Jumblatt also called on those who attacked the Army and killed two soldiers in the Bekaa Valley town of Arsal last month to turn themselves in.

Commenting on the 2-year-old conflict in Syria, Jumblatt criticized the “so-called international community” for not providing rebels with arms needed to topple President Bashar Assad.

He also blasted the remarks from Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, who said Assad would run for a presidential election in 2014. Jumblatt wondered how it was possible to forget the sacrifices of the Syrian people and make such provocative remarks.

Jumblatt also criticized Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for saying last week that civil war would break out in Lebanon if Assad were toppled. He said it was better for Maliki to devote his time for restoring stability and boosting national reconciliation in Iraq.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 05, 2013, on page 3.




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