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Lebanon: Aoun Backing Hezbollah Arms Upsets March 14 Forces

Lebanon: Aoun Backing Hezbollah Arms Upsets March 14 Forces

Thursday, 27 September, 2018 - 07:45
Aoun speaks at UN General Assembly meeting in New York on Wednesday/NNA

A strong harmony materialized Wednesday between Lebanon’s Michel Aoun and Hezbollah, one day after the President defended the Shiite party during an interview with the French newspaper, Le Figaro.

“Hezbollah doesn’t use his arms inside Lebanon, and doesn’t carry out provocations along the border with [Israeli-] occupied territories,” the President said.

Aoun’s comments stimulated the praise of Hezbollah’s deputy secretary-general Naim Qassem, who described them as honorable and responsible.

The Hezbollah official said Aoun’s stances “will protect Lebanon from both the Israeli and the takfiri enemies”.

On Tuesday, Aoun told the French newspaper that “Hezbollah’s popular base constitutes more than the third of the Lebanese people.”

He also explained that the group’s sizeable weapons arsenal is linked to the regional situation, especially the conflict in neighboring Syria.

“Hezbollah's support base constitutes more than one-third of the Lebanese people,” Aoun said, adding that “international pressure” on the group was “increasing.”

However, the political and constitution cover provided by Aoun to Hezbollah’s arms drove on Wednesday the criticisms of March 14 forces.

LF former deputy Antoine Zahra told Asharq Al-Awsat that Aoun’s comments implicate Lebanon and the Lebanese, especially when the President links the fate of Hezbollah’s arms with the region’s crises.

“Aoun’s decision to defend the arms of Hezbollah does not reflect the official Lebanese policy towards the issue,” he said.

For his part, member of the Future Movement politburo Mustafa Alloush told Asharq Al-Awsat that Qassem’s comments already embarrassed the President, who is currently attending meetings at the UN General Assembly in New York.

“The position of Aoun at the UN is a means to return the favor to the party, but it cannot change how the world sees Hezbollah,” Alloush explained.

He added that the President’s position also reflects the depth of national division regarding the issue of Hezbollah’s arms.

“Unfortunately, Aoun’s position places Lebanon under the guillotine of international sanctions, and fails to protect Lebanon,” Alloush said.

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