Hezbollah MP Nawaf Musawi took aim Sunday at the Future Movement, accusing the political party of seeking to paralyze the country through a campaign against the Lebanese Army over recent clashes in the south of the country between the military and Islamist fighters.
“The Future Movement and its team is employing a program of paralyzing state apparatuses and institutions, Parliament and Cabinet right up to [the Army] which protects national unity and preserves peace, security and stability in the country,” said Musawi, who spoke during an inauguration ceremony of development projects in Tayr Harfa in Tyre, south Lebanon.
He warned that targeting the Lebanese Army would lead to catastrophic results.
“The Army is not the intended target per se of the campaign [by the Future Movement]. Instead [the campaign] targets the future of Lebanon and its continuity because a strike at the Army or parlaying its role will lead to blind strife in Lebanon and catastrophes,” he said.
For his part, Amal Movement MP Ali Khreis, who also spoke during the Tyre ceremony, questioned “the talk that we hear every day that target the Army after the events of Abra as though they want the Lebanese Army to remain with its hands crossed when it is attacked or ... when soldiers are martyred.”
“Or is it forbidden that they defend themselves ... and protect the nation?” he added.
The Future Movement has called for a probe into recent clashes in Abra, a village to the east of the city of Sidon where deadly battles raged between the Army and Islamist fighters loyal to Sheikh Ahmad Assir last month. Over a dozen soldiers and 28 gunmen were killed in two days of clashes.
Speaking at a March 14 event in Sidon, former Prime Minister Foaud Siniora, who heads the Future parliamentary bloc, praised the Army for restoring calm in his home city but said a probe was needed into the Abra events, including cases of alleged abuse at the hands of the Lebanese military and whether members linked to Hezbollah had aided the military in the fighting.
The Army has said that it fought alone in Abra. Hezbollah has also denied aiding the Army in the clashes.
Musawi said the Army had acted with heroism in Abra, in an operation that “did not lead to any civilians being wounded.” He said the Army had also managed to avoid another “April 13,” – the day of the outbreak of Lebanon’s Civil War in 1975.
The Hezbollah MP also laid the blame on the Future Movement over the stalled Cabinet formation and the failure to convene a legislative session of Parliament.
“The Future Movement seeks to paralyze Parliament and the paralyzing of Parliament harms the nation and people’s interests,” he said, adding that there were many draft laws dealing with the people’s needs that couldn’t be addressed because of the boycott.
“What is needed is that [they] respond to Speaker Nabih Berri’s call for lawmakers to attend the legislative sessions,” he said.
Last week, Berri had to postpone a series of legislative sessions after political parties boycotted Parliament. Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, March 14 political parties and the Free Patriotic Movement, which is allied to Hezbollah, were among those who did not attend the session.
While Mikati argues his resigned Cabinet cannot take part in a legislative session, March 14 parties object to the ordinary draft laws included in the agenda and insist that only urgent matters be addressed. MP Michel Aoun, who heads the FPM, objects to raising the retirement age of senior military and security officials, which is one of the items on the agenda.
On the Cabinet formation process, Musawi said the Future Movement’ conditions were getting in the way of allowing the birth of the next government.
“There is a need for Cabinet to be formed soon on the basis of mechanisms stipulated in the Constitution in terms of fair representation of parliamentary blocs, which select their representatives [in Cabinet],” he said.
Hezbollah insists that Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam form a political government where Cabinet seats are distributed according to the representation of political blocs in Parliament. The March 14 seeks a non-political government.