calls for ‘weapons-free Beirut’ are serious, says MP


March 14 MP Jamal Jarrah told the Voice of Lebanon (VOL) on Friday that calls for a “weapons-free Beirut” are serious.

“The issue should be followed up calmly and through dialogue,” Jarrah said, adding that the August 24 clashes in Beirut should not recur.

March 14 leaders called for a “weapons-free Beirut” following a bloody street battle that shook the Borj Abi Haidar neighborhood in the Lebanese capital on August 24, pitting supporters of the Iranian backed Hezbollah against the pro-Syrian Al-Ahbash militants —also known as the Association of Islamic Charitable Projects. 3 people were killed in the clash including a Hezbollah senior official.

According to local reports the c.lash was caused by a fight over a parking space.

The issue of weapons free Beirut has led to dissent within the ranks of several parties and parliamentary blocks .

Free Patriotic Movement (FPM)

MP Naji Gharios told the Voice of Lebanon (VOL) last Friday that Beirut should be an arms-free city.

Similarly another FPM MP Alain Aoun told LBCI television last Friday that the arms that do not serve a specific purpose should be confiscated by the state.

On Friday FPM MP Ghassan Moukheiber told the Voice of Lebanon (VOL) that weapons in Lebanon should only be in the hands of “legitimate powers.” This is a possible reference to the Lebanese army and internal security forces

On the other hand Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun, a close ally of Hezbollah and a key defender of Hezbollah arms said only Hezbollah should be armed and questioned why Beirut only should be arms- free

Progressive socialist party

Similarly Minister of the Displaced Akram Shehayyeb stressed Thursday that all political powers are demanding that Beirut becomes arms-free.

He said: “This is an historic issue that cannot be solved except politically.”

“Controlling the arms is required, and maintaining arms against the enemy is also required. It is important to distinguish between arms aimed at defending Lebanon and those that are disorganized and spread throughout the country,” he noted, in reference to the Borj Abi Haidar battle.

Shehayyeb, who is a member of Jumblatt’s Democtaric Gathering parliamentary bloc differs with his boss on this issue.

MP Walid Jumblatt told As Safir newspaper on Thursday that the slogan of arms-free Beirut was meaningless and unenforceable and warned that the Borj Abi Haidar clashes were more dangerous than any external war.

Jumblatt said the deadly street battles between Hezbollah and Al-Ahbash gunmen last week came in reaction to the tripartite summit held at Baabda between President Michel Suleiman, Saudi King Abdullah and Syrian leader Bashar Assad.

“As if there is someone who wants to tell the leaders: You are not the ones who come up with solutions,” Jumblatt said.

He warned that Lebanon was threatened by chaos and said the Americans want to fight Iran on Lebanese territories. “There are other countries who want to fight Syria in Lebanon, “he added in a possible reference to Iran.

The clash was described by many observers as a proxy war between Iran and Syria over the control of Lebanon.