Lebanese officials speak out against Hezbollah's control over country

"The irony is that they want to challenge and threaten the world and then ask it for help and money."

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October 7, 2019 21:12
4 minute read.
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters during a public appearance at a re

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah addresses his supporters during a public appearance at a religious procession. (photo credit: AZIZ TAHER/REUTERS)

Head of the Lebanese Kataeb party MP Sami Gemayel and leader of the Christian Lebanese Forces political party Samir Geagea spoke out against the control that the Hezbollah terrorist group exercises over Lebanon as protests continued amid a deepening financial crisis in the country, according to Asharq Al-Awsat.

Gemayel pointed to a settlement in 2016 that allowed Michel Aoun to be elected as president, claiming that this led Lebanon to its current "catastrophic" state of affairs. The MP added that this allowed Hezbollah to take control of the country.

"The current political class is covering for Hezbollah and is implementing the party’s policies, whether in defending it at international arenas or justifying its internal policies," said Gemayel. "We believe that a government which is clearly controlled by Hezbollah must not be granted confidence."

Hezbollah's control over the government embroils Lebanon in regional conflicts against the people's will, according to the MP. Gemayel lamented the fact that the country's president is not invited to visit the United States.

"When the government remains silent over every challenge from Lebanese territory against Arab or foreign countries and all of Lebanon’s historic friends, then this means that this government is complicit," said Gemayel.

The MP added that Lebanon now has to deal with "sanctions, restrictions and unusual cash flows because Lebanon is being used to smuggle fuel to Syria."

"The irony is that they want to challenge and threaten the world and then ask it for help and money," said Gemayel.

At a Lebanese Forces convention in Canada, Geagea expressed concerns about Hezbollah's influence in the country as well, describing Lebanon as a "bus without a driver," according to the Lebanese National News Agency.

"There are currently two imminent threats to Lebanon: the first is a security-military-strategic threat, seeing as Lebanon is currently like a bus without a driver, which is being driven by someone other than the one behind the steering wheel, and we don’t know where he’ll take us," said Geagea.

"The decision of peace and war is fully in Hezbollah’s hand, and we hope Hezbollah will not drag us into a war in the region with all its dramatic repercussions."

The parliamentarian recalled the Israel-Lebanon War in 2006, saying that the Lebanese people went to sleep and woke up the next day at war. Then-prime minister Fouad Siniora said that he didn't know what had happened and hadn't approved it and he did what he could to remedy the negative effects on the Lebanese people.

He expressed hope that there wouldn't be a regional escalation and that Lebanon would avoid any danger.

Geagea called on the Lebanese president and prime minister to "tell Hezbollah that if it is a Lebanese party, it is not entitled to put the Lebanese people in dangers they do not want, because the decision of peace and war is in the hands of the procedural authority and the government combined."

Geagea was one of the officials who voted Aoun into power.

At the end of August, tensions escalated between Israel and Hezbollah when two explosive drones fell in Beirut near crates containing equipment for precision guided missiles and Israel carried out an airstrike in Syria which led to the deaths of two Hezbollah terrorists. Hezbollah responded a week later by firing anti-tank missiles at an IDF vehicle, narrowly missing it according to Israel and successfully hitting it according to Hezbollah.

In September, Aoun described the drone attacks on Hezbollah as a "declaration of war."

"What happened resembles a declaration of war that entitles us to resort to our right to defend our sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity," said Aoun.

On Monday, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri rejected any Lebanese involvement in regional conflicts.

"As head of the government, I refuse any form of Lebanese involvement in the conflicts around us. Moreover, I stress that the Lebanese cabinet refuses to intervene or participate in activities of any organization that is hostile to the Arabian Gulf countries," said Hariri while in the UAE in response to a question about Hezbollah's activities in the region, according to Asharq Al Awsat.

Hariri added that Hezbollah should be addressed as "a component of a regional system and not as a party" in his government.

Hariri did speak out against the drone attacks on Hezbollah in August, calling them a threat to Lebanon's sovereignty and and attempt to spark regional conflict, according to Reuters.

The prime minister expressed a similar opinion in an interview with CNBC in September, when he described Hezbollah as a "regional problem," not just a "Lebanese problem." Hariri added that Israel holds Lebanon responsible for Hezbollah's action, but that this isn't true. He acknowledged that he was limited in his ability to keep Hezbollah under control.

Jerusalem Post Staff and Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.


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