Lebanon News

Jumblatt voices regret over Nasrallah’s Syria remarks

PSP leader Walid Jumblatt attends a press conference in Beirut, Lebanon, Friday, July 1, 2011. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt criticized Hezbollah’s leader for recently praising the late Asef Shawkat – killed in a Damascus bombing last week – and tied National Dialogue to the release of telecoms data needed in the investigations of attempted assassinations of political figures.

“It would have been better had he not turned one of the symbols of killing, oppression and maltreatment of the Syrian people a comrade in arms,” he said in his weekly statement to Al-Anbaa newspaper Monday.

Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, praised Wednesday the victims of the recent, daring Damascus bombing that claimed the lives of four of President Bashar Assad’s top security chiefs, including his brother in law Shawkat.

Jumblatt also raised questions about Shawkat and the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005.

“Was it a strange or horrible coincidence that Shawkat was promoted from a Brigadier General to a Major General on Feb. 14, 2005 – the day that Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was assassinated?” he asked.

The PSP chief also urged Nasrallah to demonstrate a fairer approach toward Syrians in their struggle against Assad.

“We had hoped that Sayyed Nasrallah, who fought to free the south, defended the rights of the Palestinians and confronted Israeli aggression, would have taken a position more in tune with this path of struggle and be fairer on the side of the Syrian people,” he said.

Jumblatt, who last week backed a boycott by the March 14 coalition of a National Dialogue session schedule for this week, said his party “stood firm in its stance that dialogue should continue as the only means to resolve differences according to the text of the invitation by President Michel Sleiman.”

Jumblatt said the invitation stated three central themes linked to benefiting from Hezbollah’s weapons “to defend Lebanon within the context of a defense strategy under the state’s authority, resolving the issue of Palestinian weapons outside [refugee] camps and the spread of weapons in the city.”

However, Jumblatt tied his backing for National Dialogue to the issue of the government releasing telecoms data to security agencies in relation to alleged assassination attempts of politicians.

“The PSP asks at the same time that all issues surrounding the issue of telecoms data be cleared because it is related to the safety of all Lebanese regardless of their political affiliation,” Jumblatt said.

The March 14 coalition announced its boycott last week in protest against Hezbollah's refusal to discuss its weapons within the framework of a national defense strategy, as well as the government's failure to provide security agencies with telecommunications data.

The opposition says the data is required for the investigation into the attempted assassination of key political figures.

MP Mohammad Raad, the head of Hezbollah’s parliamentary bloc said last week that it was premature for rival political leaders to discuss a national defense strategy, saying the country had yet to liberate itself from Israeli occupation.





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