Lebanon News

Eids residing in Damascus, told to stay put

Head of the Arab Democratic Party Ali Eid.

Arab Democratic Party leader Ali Eid and his son, politburo chief Rifaat, are residing at a maximum security compound in Damascus, close to Bashar Assad’s presidential palace in the neighborhood of Mohajrin, The Daily Star has learned.

News reports emerged earlier this month that both ADP figures had left Lebanon, with the daily An-Nahar claiming that the two had used illegal border crossings to escape to Syria, and other news websites maintaining that Rifaat alone was in the Syrian port city of Tartous.

However, Arab Democratic Party sources had dismissed the reports as rumors, saying both were still in Lebanon. The Daily Star made several attempts to call Rifaat Eid’s mobile phone, but assistants answered back claiming their boss was “in a meeting.”

Sources told The Daily Star that a “stormy meeting was held between Syrian President Bashar Assad and his brother Maher on one side and Ali and Rifaat Eid and Sheikh Hayyan Ramadan on the other.”

The latter three are wanted by the Lebanese judiciary.

“Bashar Assad was scolding both Rifaat and Ali Eid angrily for wasting the social and financial assistance provided by the Syrian regime in the past to the Alawites in the Tripoli neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen. When Rifaat tried to defend himself, Assad told him sharply to shut up, and addressed both ADP leaders, saying ‘Now you both stay here while we figure out what we will do,’” a source present at the meeting said.

The source explained that Sheikh Ramadan is Assad’s man and plays a pivotal role in the fighting with the Syrian regime. He runs several groups, comprised of different nationalities, which battle alongside the regime across Syria.

The source also said that Rifaat and Ali Eid are loyal to Maher Assad, and that the Syrian regime deliberately limited the powers of the Eid family in Tripoli because they had become more powerful than expected, and the regime preferred they stay under the its command, rather than Hezbollah’s.

Separately, a senior political source lauded the role that the Future Movement played in curbing the activities of field commanders loyal to the group, and the efforts exerted by Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi in Tripoli.

As part of a security plan launched last month to restore stability in restive Tripoli, the Lebanese Army and the Internal Security Forces have arrested a number of militia commanders.

The source noted that fundamentalism within the Sunni sect couldn’t be confronted unless power is allotted to centrist Sunni figures like Tammam Salam, and key ministries are given to the notorious hawks of the sect, such as Rifi and Nouhad Machnouk.

He added that open communication between the Future Movement and Hezbollah would further stabilize the situation in the north. Such communication would be reflected in parliamentary subcommittees, wherein the two parties would follow up on matters of mutual and conflicting interest.

Confronting the two chief conflicting issues between the resistance and Future – namely, Hezbollah’s arsenal and its involvement in Syria – will be postponed until Saudi-Iranian relations are settled.

The Daily Star has learned that Rifi’s upcoming visit to Saudi Arabia to meet with Saudi officials and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri will focus on a means to follow up on the security strategy in Tripoli with several development and social plans, seeing that the economic development of the city would contribute immensely to limiting the spread of arms and violence.

Also both Rifi and Hariri will discuss new dialogue channels with Hezbollah.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 17, 2014, on page 3.




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