If Hizbullah dominates the next Lebanese government, Lebanon will “turn into
Gaza,” Samir Geagea, leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces, warned at a press
conference in Beirut on Saturday.
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Geagea also warned that in such a
scenario, Lebanon’s economy would be devastated and freedoms would be
The Christian leader was referring to Hamas’s takeover of Gaza
in 2007 and the devastation of its economy that followed. Both Hamas and
Hizbullah are funded by Iran.
”Did any one wonder what will happen to the
Lebanese pound if the other side assumes power in Lebanon?” Geagea
On Friday, Druse leader Walid Jumblatt, a potential kingmaker in
Lebanese politics threw his support on Friday behind Hizbullah, a major boost to
the Shi’ite terrorist group that brought down the country’s Westernbacked
government last week.
Jumblatt refused to say exactly how many lawmakers
are with him, but his support is key ahead of parliamentary talks on Monday to
pick a new prime minister.
Geagea said during his press conference
Saturday that Jumblatt would not support Hizbullah if “the Democratic Gathering
[Jumblatt’s party] had a choice.”
Jumblatt’s announcement is the latest
twist in a political crisis pitting the Syrianbacked Hizbullah against caretaker
Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who said last week he will seek the premiership
“The party will stand firm in support of Syria and the
resistance,” Jumblatt told reporters on Friday, referring to Hizbullah by its
Jumblatt’s decision portends lengthy negotiations between
Lebanon’s Westernbacked blocs and the Hizbullah led-alliance. If those fail,
Lebanon could see a resurgence of the street protests and violence that have
bedeviled the country in the past.
Hizbullah, which is also backed by
Iran, is Lebanon’s most potent military force.
Lebanon’s crisis stems
from a UN tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former prime minister
Rafik Hariri, Saad’s father. Many fear Hizbullah will react violently if its
members are named in the court’s sealed indictment as is widely
The indictment was filed on Monday but its contents likely will
not be made public for weeks.
Ministers from Hizbullah and its allies
toppled the government on January 12 after walking out when Saad Hariri refused
to renounce the tribunal.
Jumblatt, who was once one of the most ardent
supporters of the tribunal, launched a scathing attack on the court on Friday,
saying it poses a “threat to national unity and national
Jumblatt’s turnaround was not entirely surprising. He has
transformed himself from a close Syrian ally to a vociferous critic and back
again over the years.
He joined the Westernbacked camp after Hariri’s
death in 2005, calling for the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar Assad and
blaming Damascus for his own father’s killing in 1977.
In 2009, Jumblatt
announced he was leaving the Western-backed bloc to take a neutral stance in
Lebanese politics. Later that year, he reconciled with
Politician Mustafa Alloush, a Hariri loyalist, said Jumblatt
had succumbed to Syrian pressure.
“This of course does not justify his
position,” Alloush told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. We are
all under pressure.”
Sounding reserved and grave, Jumblatt said he was
forced to vote with Hizbullah after a Saudi-Syrian initiative to settle the
crisis had fizzled.
Revealing for the first time the contents of the
failed initiative, Jumblatt said it called for scrapping Lebanon’s cooperation
with the Netherlands- based tribunal, halting Lebanese funding and withdrawing
Hizbullah and its allies want that to be a priority for
the next government.
Jumblatt said all sides approved the initiative
before it was derailed by “international parties” – a reference to interference
by the US, which Hizbullah accused of pressuring Hariri.
The support of
at least 65 lawmakers is required to form a government in Lebanon’s 128-seat
parliament. Hizbullah and its allies already claim 57 seats. Saad Hariri has
Jumblatt, whose bloc has 11 members, refused to say whether he had
secured the support of enough lawmakers to allow Hizbullah and its allies to
form their own government.
But he is known to have support from at least
five, which would mean he needed just three more to tip the balance.
the Netherlands, the pretrial judge studying the indictment, Daniel Fransen,
warned against leaks in the case.
A court decision released to the media
said releasing the contents of the sealed indictment could amount to
“interference with the tribunal’s administration of justice amounting to