Hariri: Defending Arsal is not Hezbollah’s responsibility


saad haririFormer Lebanese PM and Future Movement leader MP Saad Hariri snapped back Sunday at Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah after the latter warned that his group might intervene militarily in the outskirts of the Bekaa border town of Arsal to oust jihadist militants entrenched there.

“We in the Future movement openly declare that the Lebanese state and its legitimate institutions are our guarantee, choice and sanctuary, and any talk of other guarantees is delusional, rejected and an absurd attempt at engaging in suicidal projects,” Hariri said in a statement.

Hariri was responding to Nasrallah who said earlier that if the Syrian regime,Hezbollah and their allies win in Syria, they would “represent the guarantee for all Lebanese,” warning that the Future Movement and its leaders would be “the first victims” if the Islamic State and al-Nusra Front groups take a foothold in Lebanon.

Nasrallah also vowed that his group would try and eliminate the two groups’ militants from the outskirts of Arsal if the Lebanese state failed to do so.

But Hariri stressed that “the defense of the land, sovereignty and dignity is not Hezbollah’s responsibility, not in Arsal, nor in its outskirts nor anywhere else.”

“Our stance on Daesh (Islamic State) and the forces of perversity and terror does not need a ‘certificate of good conduct’ from anyone,” Hariri added.

Slamming Nasrallah’s insistence on the so-called army-people-resistance equation, Hariri emphasized that “there is no golden equation to protect Lebanon other than the equation of national consensus and putting an end to the policies of threats, intimidation and raised fists.”

“The equation of the Hashed al-Shaabi ( The Iranian -led Iraq’s Shiite-dominated Popular Mobilization paramilitary forces) has no place in Lebanon and we will not offer a cover for that under any circumstances,” added Hariri.

“Where is the benefit in linking the fate of Nabatiyeh, Baalbek and Arsal to the fate of (Iraq’s) Ramadi and Mosul, (Syria’s) Palmyra, (Yemen’s) Saada and other regions? To which abyss do they want to take Lebanon? What kind of war are they asking the Shiite sect and the sons of tribes in Baalbek and Hermel to engage in?” Hariri went on to say.

The IS group has recently seized control of Ramadi and Palmyra, extending its so-called “caliphate” that straddles both Iraq and Syria.

“For years now, we have been calling for rapprochement in order to protect Lebanon and national coexistence, but there are parties who are insisting on moving from one war to another and from one blaze to another,” Hariri said.
“For years now, we have been calling for devising a national strategy that protects Lebanon from terrorism and the surrounding flames, and that recognizes the Lebanese army and legitimate security forces and their exclusive right to protect national security,” the former PM stated.

He accused Hezbollah of “exerting efforts to impede this national mission” and of telling the Lebanese that “their army is weak and incompetent.”

“They want to turn Lebanon’s border into the last lifeline for a faltering regime, which the battles in Qalamoun and barrel bomb raids will not enable to escape from its inevitable fate,” Hariri added.

“It is very easy to dissociate Lebanon from the regional blazes through returning to the state and its authority and uniting behind the army and legitimate forces in the protection of the border and the fight against the threats of terrorism,” he said.

The former premier also stressed that the coming together of the Lebanese is “the only way to open the door to real reconciliations, ending the presidential vacuum and restoring normalcy in state institutions.”

Similarly yesterday Lebanon’s Interior Minister Nouhad al-Mashnouq slammed the recent remarks of Hezbollah deputy Secretary General Sheikh Naim Qassem over claims of “liberating” the northeastern border town of Arsal, stressing that the army should be the only party responsible for such a mission and accused the Iranian backed Shiite militant group of aiming at destroying the mostly Sunni border town.

Mashnouq told the Al Mustaqbal daily: “Qassem is calling for destroying Arsal, not liberating it .”

Arsal mayor Ali al-Hujairi voiced concern Saturday over attempts by Hezbollah and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to drag the northeastern border town into war.

“They are trying to pull Arsal into a dark tunnel of blood and fire,” Hujairi said in comments published in the Kuwaiti al-Anbaa newspaper.