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Geagea to Asharq Al-Awsat: Iran Did Not Win in Lebanon

Geagea to Asharq Al-Awsat: Iran Did Not Win in Lebanon

Wednesday, 13 February, 2019 - 08:15
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea. (NNA)
Beirut - Thaer Abbas
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea rejected allegations that Iran and the Hezbollah group have claimed “victory” in Lebanon.

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, he said that the confrontation in the region is ongoing.

“Some tactical victories and defeats are achieved,” he explained.

“Let us consider Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah’s remarks, which were rehashed in one way or another by Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil. Tehran says it is prepared to arm the Lebanese military. It also said it wants to export its own medicine and other products to Lebanon.”

“Have any of these proposals materialized?” he asked. “No, and they won’t. It is therefore, not true that Iran has seized control of Lebanon.”

“At the moment, no one is confronting anyone and no one wants the confrontation. This does not mean that Iran has emerged victorious,” stressed Geagea.

Asked about the Arab reaction to Lebanon’s formation of a government, he replied that the response was lukewarm because it took eight months to establish a cabinet.

Commenting on his ties with other political powers in Lebanon, he stated that the broad lines on which the rival March 8 and 14 camps were formed still stand, despite some occasional differences in opinion within these groups.

The March 14 camp is comprised of the Mustaqbal Movement of Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the LF and Progressive Socialist Party

He said it was unfortunate that some of the LF’s allies did not support its position on Hezbollah’s possession of arms in the government’s policy statement.

On alleged attempts to turn a blind eye to Hezbollah’s practices in order to ensure that the government operates smoothly, he noted: “It is best for all parties to have a clear stance on matters.”

“For example, I had hoped that for the policy statement, they would have demanded that Hezbollah’s arms come under state authority, which is what everybody wants.”

“I understand that parties do not want an escalation, but I do not understand how they would be willing to abandon their ambitions.”

On the LF’s ties with Bassil, Geagea said that relations with the minister were “not good.”

This could possibly be because the minister was attempting cut the LF’s share of ministerial portfolios during the government formation process, he revealed. The LF was meanwhile attempting to reap its rights in the cabinet.

Tensions also existed between the two sides during the parliamentary elections that were held in May.

“I hope that after these two issues have been put to rest that we can achieve better cooperation in files that are proposed at cabinet,” Geagea said.

On Hezbollah, he remarked that ties with the party are nonexistent.

“We do cooperate with their ministers and lawmakers to manage the people’s daily lives. We will not obstruct parliamentary and government work because of our differences,” he stated.

Moreover, the LF had objected to the article on Hezbollah’s arms arsenal and resistance against Israel in the policy statement.

“Of course, the Lebanese people have the right to resist Israeli occupation. We believe in this, but it must take place through legitimate state institutions. They do not want this. Why?”

“This whole issue is not about resisting Israel as much as it is about finding means to remain outside of state authority. We do not accept this,” declared Geagea.

The priority at the moment, however, must be the economy, he continued.

“Statements about combating corruption must be translated into practical steps,” he demanded.

The first step lies in approving the state budget, which he described as a “leaky bowl” that has been spilling its contents for 30 years.

“As long as the leaks remain, the squandering of funds will continue. We must therefore, plug this hole if we are serious about tackling the budget.”

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