BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea Saturday denounced the recent stances made by Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah regarding the participation of foreign fighters in case of Israeli aggression.
“Nasrallah’s speech yesterday [Friday] juxtaposed with the positive atmosphere that has prevailed [in the country],” Geagea said Friday to Radio Liban Libre, adding that “[Nasrallah’s] speech was highly escalatory.”
Hezbollah leader had warned Israel that any attack on Lebanon or Syria would trigger intervention by “hundreds of thousands” of Arab and Muslim fighters to join the battle against the Jewish state.
The severest warning against Israel seemed to come in response to recent and repeated Israeli threats to destroy Lebanon’s infrastructure in the event of a renewed confrontation with Hezbollah.
“None of us [parties] can unilaterally bring up and decide upon the paths of strategic topics,” Geagea said, adding that in much of his speech, Nasrallah “spoke of [decisions that are restricted to] government prerogatives.”
Geagea warned that Nasrallah’s words were unruly and untimely in view of the positive atmosphere that has been prevailed in the country.
“Instead of having the [recent] endorsement of the [electoral law] as a kind of a beginning for a period of comprehensive political stability and thus an improvement of the economy, regrettably, Nasrallah’s speech yesterday [Friday] was disruptive,” Geagea said, adding that “strategic decision making belongs to the whole Lebanese people as represented in the Lebanese government,” in which Hezbollah has representatives.
“Therefore, if there were data or insight, Hezbollah representatives (ministers) should have proposed them to the Cabinet as part of responsible and completely confidential debates,” Geagea said.
“Then, what should be agreed upon would be settled there [in the Cabinet].”
Geagea also said that “it is not up to anybody to open Lebanese borders [for foreign fighters], even the Lebanese Cabinet.”
LF leader also stressed that the proposal to recruit foreign fighters would gravely endanger Lebanon.
“If someone sees a cat coming, do they go to sit in the lap of a hyena? [Similarly,] if we want to defend our country in case Israel attempts an aggression on us [Lebanon], do we open the border and recruit thousands of strangers as fighters, from unknown whereabouts, for them to occupy our country?,” Geagea asked.
“Who will [be able to] deport them later?”
Geagea renewed his calls for exclusively limiting the task of defending Lebanon to the Army and security agencies.
“In case of an Israeli aggression against Lebanon, it is clearly logical for the Lebanese Army to face it aided with the other Lebanese armed forces and backed by the Lebanese people,” Geagea said.
“We would keep fighting for our land until the last living person [dies].”
Despite relative calm on the south Lebanon border since the 2006 War, the exchange of tough rhetoric between Israel and Hezbollah has heightened fears of renewed fighting.
Geagea also criticized Nasrallah’s stances against Saudi Arabia and what he called Nasrallah’s “interference” with Palestinian internal affairs.
Lebanon’s relations with Saudi Arabia soured in 2016 over perceived hostile stances linked to Hezbollah and Iran at Arab League and Islamic meetings. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states in 2016 branded Hezbollah a “terrorist organization” after its involvement in the Syrian conflict and its alleged interference in some Gulf states. However, relations between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia improved when President Michel Aoun chose Riyadh in January for his first visit abroad after he took office in October, breaking the ice between the two countries.
Geagea also called for distancing Lebanon from involvement in regional conflicts and opposing any external interference with the country.
“Lebanon would no longer remain an arena for others [to fight on] if the Lebanese themselves refuse to [offer the chance] do so and cut off any room for interference in our [Lebanese] internal affairs,” Geagea said.
“When a Lebanese party asks others to come to Lebanon, which turns [the country] into a showground for them, they would not hesitate to interfere.”
Such a scenario would wreak havoc in the fragile country, Geagea said, adding that “opposite to all efforts made by Lebanese leaders to distance Lebanon from the regional fire and [their attempts for] maintaining its stability, with the help of most of the Arab and foreign countries, Sayyed Hasan [Nasrallah] comes to thrust us in again into the turmoil of the ongoing fire in the region.”