Lebanon News

Nasrallah accuses March 14 of arming Syrian opposition

BEIRUT: Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah accused Lebanon’s March 14 alliance Thursday of funding and transferring weapons to Syria’s opposition while leaving the door open to dialogue without pre-conditions.

Nasrallah also reiterated his support to President Bashar Assad and accused Western and Arab states of seeking to topple the embattled leader, who he said had put forward a series of political reforms that could end the crisis.

“Do laws in Syria permit you [Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea] and the March 14 coalition to send arms to Syria and money for those who had honorably fought against the Arab nation’s enemy [Israel]?” Nasrallah, who spoke on the annual occasion commemorating slain Lebanese resistance leaders, asked.

At a March 14 gathering Tuesday commemorating the seventh anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Geagea voiced support to the Syrian opposition and called on Arab and international communities to exhaust all efforts to stop the bloodshed in Syria.

In his speech Tuesday, Geagea said: “To Hezbollah I say ... enough is enough. Democracy and freedom have arrived [in Syria].”

The Hezbollah secretary general also accused the Lebanese opposition group of possessing arms and questioned the grouping’s source of funding.

“We have said we have weapons and we have been increasing our power in quality and quantity. We have talked about weapons but theirs are hidden arms ... You [March 14] should confess that you have arms,” Nasrallah said.

“Why not show your weapons?” he asked.

On funding, Nasrallah said his group was honest on how it sought financing, namely Iran.

"I announced [last week] that we receive funding from Iran, but what about you [March 14]? Where does your source of money come from?" he asked.

Last week Nasrallah, on the occasion of Prophet Mohammad’s birthday, said his group was proud of receiving funding from the Islamic Republic and denied being financed by means such as money laundering or through Lebanese businessmen.

“Where is all [your] money coming from?” Nasrallah, addressing the March 14 alliance, asked.

Although launching a barrage of accusations against his political rivals, Nasrallah left the door open to a resumption of dialogue with the March 14 alliance.

“We are open to dialogue,” Nasrallah said.

“However, If the call for dialogue is accompanied by certain conditions, this is not a real call for dialogue,” he added.

During the March 14 event Tuesday, Hariri’s son, Future Movement leader MP Saad Hariri, said the March 14 alliance was open to re-launching dialogue but insisted that talks should focus solely on the issue of Hezbollah’s arms.

The March 14 movement has repeatedly urged the resistance group to hand over its weapons to the state.

Hezbollah insists its arms are necessary to defend Lebanon against Israel.

“You are not in a position to set conditions,” the Hezbollah chief said, adding: “Nor are you in a position to provide assurances.”

The Hezbollah also said that the March 14 support for the Syrian opposition does not interests of Lebanon but rather destabilized both the country and the region.

Nasrallah, Damascus’s strongest ally in Lebanon, also reiterated support to Assad who is facing growing regional and international pressure to end the violence in his country and hand over power.

The Hezbollah chief said arch-enemy Israel sought any system of government in Syria other than one headed by the embattled leader.

"Israel bets and believes that given the regional strategic environment that is working against it that the Syrian regime should be overthrown,” he said.

Nasrallah said Assad had come forward with credible reforms to help end the crisis in Syria but that the United States, Western governments, Israel as well as some Arab states did not want a political solution but solely to see the end of Assad’s rule.

“An Arab peace plan with Israel has been on the table for years now ... Arab leaders say the only solution concerning Israel is political but they refuse to offer a political solution in Syria,” he said.

"There is an Arab, Western, American, and Israeli insistence that there be no solution in Syria and on toppling the regime in Syria,” he added.

Nasrallah said Damascus would resist and never succumb to “the U.S. will in the region.”

 

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