Lebanon News

Geagea decries minister's official visit to Syria

LF leader Samir Geagea speaks in Maarab, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir))

BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea Wednesday blasted Hezbollah over what he called “attempts to buoy up the Syrian regime.”

Following Wednesday's Cabinet meeting, Industry Minister and Hezbollah MP Hussein Hajj Hasan announced to the press that he would go on an official visit to Syria.

“We have [political] disagreements that will not be resolved today,” Geagea said in a televised statement, in an oblique reference to Hajj Hasan’s announcement. Geagea added that attempts were being made “to use Lebanon to support the regime of [President] Bashar Assad.”

Certain political parties are attempting to grant Assad “some sort of legitimacy,” Geagea said, refraining from specifically naming Hezbollah or Hajj Hasan.

“Some ministers say they want to go to Syria on their official designation to sign economic agreements,” Geagea said. He went on: “Syria is still under a war ... that I think may continue to rage.”

“What reconstruction are you talking about?” Geagea asked, adding:

“We cannot accept any official contact with the Syrian government.”

He also lashed out against calls for the Lebanese Army to coordinate with the Syrian government in the expected offensive against Daesh (ISIS) militants in Ras Baalbeck, on the northeast Lebanese border.

The LF chief also said that attempts to collaborate with the Syrian government would “breach” and threaten the political understanding on which the current Lebanese government was formed, as well as the fundamental “principle of the existence of a state in Lebanon.”

He also criticized certain parties’ exploitation of critical issues to engage in communication with the Syrian government.

“One example is contacting the Syrian government to arrange the return of Syrian refugees,” he said.

The Turkish and Jordanian governments were taking such decisions without coordination with Assad’s regime, Geagea noted. The politicians “forget that these refugees left [Syria] because of Assad’s government,” he said.

The refugees do not want to return to areas under the control of Assad, he said.

According to Geagea, any attempts to boost ties with the Syrian regimes would increasingly isolate Lebanon and would draw the ire of regional players. “In supporting Bashar Assad, we fight everybody else that we might [otherwise] benefit from,” he said.

Geagea said the Hezbollah Secretary Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s tirade against Saudi Arabia in January and the latter’s solicitation of the armed support of foreign fighters were examples of the party’s violation of political agreements to decrease local tensions.

Geagea also accused Hezbollah of seeking to “grant themselves a legitimacy that no one [else] would want to grant them.” Hezbollah has been fighting in Syria alongside Assad’s regime since 2013.

“I hope all parties in the government will end these attempts and return to the agreement on which this Cabinet was created,” Geagea said.





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