Geagea to Asharq Al-Awsat: Hezbollah Leading Lebanon into Unknown Territory

Leader of the Lebanese Forces (LF) Samir Geagea
Leader of the Lebanese Forces (LF) Samir Geagea
TT

Geagea to Asharq Al-Awsat: Hezbollah Leading Lebanon into Unknown Territory

Leader of the Lebanese Forces (LF) Samir Geagea
Leader of the Lebanese Forces (LF) Samir Geagea

Samir Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces (LF), has warned that Hezbollah and Iran are leading Lebanon into dangerous territory. He criticized the Lebanese government for abandoning the country and leaving it vulnerable to Iran’s influence.

Geagea accused the “Axis of Resistance” of blocking presidential elections in Lebanon, which have been stalled for nearly two years, due to other priorities.

He mentioned that the Lebanese Forces are in serious talks with about 25 parliamentarians to persuade them to take a clear stance on elections. Geagea expressed cautious optimism, noting about “30% progress.”

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Geagea warned that clashes between Hezbollah and Israel in southern Lebanon are likely to escalate.

He criticized the Lebanese government for being absent during this crisis, saying it feels like there is no government at all.

“When your legitimate government, your mother and father, are absent, it means you can be taken anywhere. Unfortunately, there are those who are leading Lebanon into the unknown,” remarked Geagea.

Moreover, the LF leader believes the conflict in southern Lebanon is not just linked to the war in Gaza.

“Because of Hezbollah’s ties, we're now entangled from the Red Sea to the Bab al-Mandab Strait, the Strait of Hormuz, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat, adding that this interconnectedness puts Lebanon in danger.

Geagea warned that if things don’t change, Lebanon faces a “vicious war of attrition,” with human and economic losses.

“If the escalation increases, who knows what will happen or how severe the losses will be,” he noted.

“Lebanon loses either way. The government, mostly aligned with the Axis of Resistance, should be taking care of Lebanon but isn’t, leading us into this predicament,” clarified Geagea.

Blaming the “official surrender” of the state on the majority of the current government members, who support the Axis of Resistance, Geagea claimed they are happy with the situation and are committing a grave crime against Lebanon.

“All of Lebanon is falling in the south right now, and they are responsible,” said Geagea, asserting that “any future devastation to Lebanon is on them.”

He also criticized other government members, including Prime Minister Najib Mikati and said: “No one in an official position can claim they are powerless. If they are, they should resign.”

Geagea also warned that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah’s threats against Cyprus pose a significant risk. He noted that the Lebanese people are not reacting strongly because they are already overwhelmed by crises.

“There’s always a bigger disaster, and I believe things are heading toward an even greater one,” predicted Geagea.

“I don’t understand why we are attacking a country like Cyprus,” he added.

“These actions are reckless and irresponsible. Cyprus is the only neighboring country with which we have no issues,” affirmed the LF leader.

Geagea believes that Lebanon is currently driven by one agenda: serving Iran’s strategic interests. He finds it unacceptable that Hezbollah, a Lebanese faction, is directing the country solely towards Iran’s goals.

Geagea sees little effective opposition within Lebanon to counter these developments.

“We oppose as necessary,” he said, referring to a recent conference where Lebanese parties discussed issues like southern Lebanon and emphasized implementing UN Resolution 1701.

“If our goal is to protect southern Lebanon and Lebanese territory, then UN Resolution 1701 ensures this protection,” he reiterated, adding that if the Lebanese army replaces Hezbollah in the south it would certainly secure the country.

Regarding motivations behind Iran’s agenda in the region, Geagea pointed out that Tehran sees control over the Mediterranean as crucial.

He cited a statement by an advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader, recalling historical and contemporary instances where Iran aimed to extend its influence to the Mediterranean through Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Presidential Election Deadlock

The presidential deadlock in Lebanon, ongoing for nearly two years, remains unchanged. Geagea criticized the Axis of Resistance for blocking sessions and hindering progress towards electing a leader for the country.

Additionally, Geagea sees no immediate resolution due to the Axis of Resistance’s other priorities and their strategy of boycotting parliamentary sessions to prevent presidential elections.

Geagea dismissed blaming the opposition, stating they have exhausted all approaches.

Recently, French envoys proposed three logical solutions, but Geagea noted that the Axis of Resistance rejected all proposals when French envoy Jean-Yves Le Drian presented them directly.

On the other hand, Geagea disputes claims that there is no parliamentary majority capable of electing a president.

He insists on conducting the presidential process seriously to ascertain if a majority exists.

“The last session held was on June 14 last year. If they had allowed the second round of elections to proceed, we would have had a president by now,” confirmed Geagea.

Regarding the opposition’s reluctance to engage in election dialogue, Geagea clarified: “Dialogue opportunities are ongoing. I proposed three pathways for dialogue, emphasizing transparency. We’re open to any meaningful discussion that could yield results.”

“We suggested three viable approaches, all of which were rejected. Our concern is avoiding an unconstitutional dialogue framework that could set a binding precedent,” he added.

Geagea believes the Axis of Resistance has laid out a clear ultimatum: either Lebanon elects their preferred presidential candidate or remains without a president.

“Given Lebanon’s current state, we won’t support their candidate. We’re pushing, exploring options, and trying to engage in dialogue within constitutional limits,” he insisted.

Geagea also downplayed the role of Free Patriotic Movement leader Gebran Bassil in the presidential process, questioning whether Bassil has made any substantial moves.

“Bassil seems intent on staying relevant by proposing a compromise candidate resembling his own,” noted Geagea.

Despite these challenges, Geagea attempted to stay positive, noting the potential influence of 25 MPs who could sway outcomes in parliament. He cautiously acknowledged some progress in efforts to find a resolution.



Israel Strikes Gaza, Yemen, Lebanon Foes after Attacks

Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
TT

Israel Strikes Gaza, Yemen, Lebanon Foes after Attacks

Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)
Smoke rises from a building hit by an Israeli strike in Nuseirat in the central Gaza Strip on July 20, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (Photo by Eyad BABA / AFP)

The Middle East was reeling Sunday from deadly violence with Israel bombing Gaza, Lebanon and Yemen in quick succession in response to attacks from Iran-backed militant groups.
Despite Washington's top diplomat asserting a deal is near the "goal line" to end more than nine months of devastating war between Israel and Gaza rulers Hamas, the Israeli military said it intercepted a missile fired from Yemen, as it pressed on with its offensive in the besieged Palestinian territory, Agence France Presse reported.
Dozens have been killed since Saturday across the Gaza Strip, the civil defense agency said, including in strikes on homes in the central Nuseirat and Bureij areas and displaced people near southern Khan Yunis.
Residents said a major operation was underway in the district of Rafah in the south, reporting heavy artillery and clashes.
The deadly strikes in Gaza came hours after Hezbollah and its ally Hamas said they fired at Israeli positions from south Lebanon, while Yemen's Houthi group vowed to respond to Israeli warplanes hitting a key port.
The fire left raging by the strikes on Hodeida port "is seen across the Middle East and the significance is clear," Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said.
Detailing the first strikes claimed by Israel in Yemen, Gallant warned of further operations if the Houthis "dare to attack us" after a Houthi drone strike killed one in Tel Aviv on Friday.
In Hodeida three people were killed and 87 wounded, health officials said in a statement carried by Houthi media.
Netanyahu travels to Washington
The trio of militant groups has vowed to keep up attacks on Israel until a truce ends the violence in Gaza, which lies in ruins, with most residents forced to flee their homes.
The Gaza war was triggered by Hamas's October 7 attack on southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,195 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
The militants also seized 251 hostages, 116 of whom are still in Gaza, including 42 the Israeli military says are dead.
Israel's military retaliation to wipe out Hamas has killed at least 38,919 people, also mostly civilians, according to data from the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
The war has also unleashed hunger and health crises in Gaza, with Israel and the United Nations trading blame for vital aid supplies failing to reach those in need.
After the detection of poliovirus in Gaza sewage, though no individual cases, the World Health Organization said there were "monumental" constraints to mounting a timely response.
WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said Friday the agency believes many more diseases are "spreading out of control" inside Gaza.
The premier is due to address US lawmakers Wednesday in Washington, where he will be under pressure to reach a ceasefire with Hamas.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday a truce was within reach.
"I believe we're... driving toward the goal line in getting an agreement that would produce a ceasefire, get the hostages home, and put us on a better track to trying to build lasting peace and stability," he said.