Fares Soueid
Fares SoueidMarch 14 Photo

The secretary general for Lebanon's March 14 opposition groups on Tuesday said Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s agreeing to fund the Special Tribunal for Lebanon indicates Hizbullah has yielded to international legitimacy.

“The statements by the prime minister of the Lebanese government, which includes Hizbullah, signifies the yielding of Hizbullah to international legitimacy,” Fares Soueid told Al-Seyassah newspaper.

Arguing that Mikati’s statements that Lebanon would fund the controversial STL could not have been arrived at without Hizbullah’s assent, Soueid said Hizbullah’s yielding to international legitimacy “could pave the way for it to yield to the legitimacy of the Lebanese state.”

“[Mikati’s stance] means that Hizbullah has chosen to work within [the framework] of international legitimacy and in return wants to work within the [framework] of the legitimacy of the Lebanese state,” Soueid told Al-Seyassah.

Seueid added he believed Hizbullah had chosen this path because Syria was too distracted with its own internal problems and because of “the confusion facing the Iranian regime.”

But ministerial sources said Monday that Mikati’s decision to fund the STL had been unilateral and that Lebanon would pay its share of funds without referring to the Hizbullah-dominated Cabinet.

Kataeb party MP Elie Marouni, however, warned Tuesday that Hizbullah's abject refusal to disarm and disband its militias, which outnumber and outgun the Lebanese military, could drive other Lebanese parties to take up arms.

Marouni's comments, which come the day after street clashes between Hizbullah and 'Palestinian refugees' in Beirut specifically cited the 'liberation' of Shabaa Farms and 'Palestine.' He also warned more street protests could erupt demanding that Hezbollah disarm.

“It is high time for the state to take decisive steps to remedy this issue [Hizbulla’s weapons] otherwise we will reach a situation where others [parties] will take up arms to also free the Shebaa Farms and [help] return the Palestinians,” Marouni told a local radio station Tuesday.

Marouni also warned against allowing “the situation to continue, otherwise the people will take to the street and will call on them to leave.”

On Monday, Kataeb party head former President Amine Gemayel launched a scathing attack on Hezbollah, describing the group’s weapons as “sectarian and partisan arms” that threaten the country.

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt Monday urged Lebanese lawmakers to remove Lebanon from the dispute over the Shebaa Farms by drawing clear borders with Syria.

In his weekly statement to Al Anbaa newspaper, Jumblatt urged lawmakers to resolve disputes in an attempt to protect the country from falling prey to regional and domestic conflict.

Lebanon, backed by Syria, maintains that the Shebaa Farms, a small plot of land where Israel, Syria and Lebanon intersect, and administered by Israel since 1967, is Lebanese territory and therefore a point of dispute with Israel. Israel maintains the land was formerly in Syrian territory. Syria has agreed with the Lebanese view, but has rejected official demarcation.

Lebanon position Shebaa Farms belongs to Beirut has been used to justify Hizbullah's maintaining its militias arms.

“Linking Lebanon’s fate with the liberation of the Shebaa Farms and linking [Lebanon’s] future with regional conflicts is unacceptable. Therefore, we should draw the borders,” Jumblatt said.

According to Jumblatt, the resolution to the issue of Hizbullah’s arms, which the March 14 coalition describe as illegal and outside the jurisdiction of the state, lies in drawing a national defense strategy capable of “absorbing Hizbullah’s arsenal within the framework of the Lebanese state."