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Hezbollah Ties Lebanon’s Political Stability to Resignation of Beirut Blast Probe Judge

Hezbollah Ties Lebanon’s Political Stability to Resignation of Beirut Blast Probe Judge

Sunday, 24 October, 2021 - 05:15
A man cleans up shattered glass a day after the Tayyouneh clashes, October 15, 2021. (Reuters)

Hezbollah tied on Saturday Lebanon’s political stability to the resignation of lead judge in the investigation of the Beirut port blast, Tarek Bitar.

Deputy leader of the Iran-backed party, Naim Qassem said Bitar “has become a real problem in Lebanon.”

The dispute has obstructed the work of the government for ten days now.

Parliamentary sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that there are no signs that it will be convening any time soon given that the dispute is not close to being resolved.

Qassem said: “We wanted a real investigator to reveal what happened at the port so that justice can prevail.”

He accused Bitar of “flagrantly politicizing the probe”, alleging that the relatives of the victims have grown suspicious of him and that he had almost caused strife in the Tayyouneh area in Beirut.

Some ten days ago, Hezbollah and its ally Amal had staged a protest against Bitar in Tayyouneh. Tensions between them and the Lebanese Forces (LF) boiled over, leading to armed clashes in the area reminiscent of the 1975-90 civil war. Seven people were killed in the fighting.

“What sort of investigator is this? He has brought us problems and crises. There can be no hope in justice coming from him,” declared Qassem.

“He is better off resigning so that stability can be restored and so people can have their justice,” he added.

He also slammed the LF over the Tayyouneh fighting, accusing it of planning the clashes beforehand as it had snipers ready to attack the peaceful protest.

“We succeeded in this confrontation because we snuffed out strife through patience and rationality,” he said, stressing that Hezbollah will follow through with the probe into the fighting so that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

Former LF MP Fadi Karam expressed his concern that the “security apparatus” could be used to suppress the opposition.

He explained that Hezbollah was using the Tayyouneh incident to divert attention from the Beirut port blast probe so that it could shirk blame from that crime.

Former President Michel Suleiman expressed concern that the judiciary was coming under pressure over the Beirut blast probe and Tayyouneh clashes.

He echoed Karam’s remarks in that the clashes were being used to divert attention from the blast investigation.

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