Mustaqbal Holds Hizbullah, its Allies ‘Largely Responsible’ for Arsal Unrest
Naharnet /The Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc condemned on Tuesday the clashes between the army and gunmen from the al-Nusra Front in the northeastern town of Arsal, saying that the attack against the army is tantamount to an assault against the whole of Lebanon. It said in a statement after its weekly meeting: “We hold Hizbullah and those allied to it largely responsible for the developments in Arsal and what Lebanon and its army have to endure.”It explained that Hizbullah’s involvement in the ongoing fighting in Syria alongside the Syrian regime forces “obstructed the decision-making power of past Lebanese governments.”“It thwarted the governments from taking any decision aimed at protecting Lebanon or disassociating it from the conflict in Syria,” added the bloc.“Hizbullah took part in the fighting in Syria without the consent of the Lebanese state and people. It violated the border with Syria through the transfer of weapons and gunmen, which led Syrian gunmen to Lebanon,” it continued.
“Hizbullah had involved Lebanon in the Syrian crisis and created spite between the people of the two countries,” it stated. Moreover, the party obstructed “the national Lebanese decision that call for the deployment of the army along the border with Syria.” “It did not allow the government to seriously deal with the case of Syrian refugees after it prevented it from setting up organized refugee centers near the border with Lebanon,” said the Mustaqbal bloc.Hizbullah should therefore withdraw from Syria “in order to halt the spread of catastrophes, extremism and terrorism to Lebanon,” demanded the bloc.
“Lebanon was better off adopting a national, political, and security policy at the beginning of the Syrian crisis to protect its border in a manner that would prevent the current dangers,” it continued.
“Lebanon was better off seriously adhering to the policy of disassociation and the articles of the Baabda Declaration, but Hizbullah prevented such ambitions and sought instead to spread the authority of its illegitimate arms outside of Lebanese borders,” it remarked.“The Lebanese army must restore its complete control over Arsal and the surrounding areas,” it demanded, while voicing its complete backing for the army and lauding the cabinet’s decision to provide the military with total support on all levels.The bloc also demanded that immediate aid be sent to the residents of Arsal, cautioning Hizbullah against meddling in the fighting in the town. Hizbullah had issued a statement earlier on Tuesday denying that it was involved in the unrest in Arsal.
Furthermore, the Mustaqbal bloc demanded that the government take “the decisive order to protect national sovereignty and work seriously to reach a ceasefire in Arsal, release security forces held captive in the town, and aid its residents.”The government must also take the decision to deploy the army along Lebanon’s eastern and northern borders, said the bloc, while demanding that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon be deployed there as well. It defended such a demand, saying that it was “reasonable” given the dangers facing Lebanon and the unrest in Syria and the region.
The March 14 alliance had repeatedly made such a demand, but it was rejected by March 8 camp officials, some of whom deemed it as “illusory”, while others said more pressing issues were at hand.
At least 16 soldiers were killed and 22 others missing in clashes between the army and al-Nusra Front gunmen in Arsal. The unrest broke out over the weekend after the arrest of a Syrian man accused of belonging to al-Qaida’s Syrian branch al-Nusra Front. Following his arrest, gunmen surrounded army posts before opening fire, sparking the clashes. Arsal is majority Sunni Muslim and broadly sympathetic to the Sunni-dominated uprising next door against Syria’s Bashar Assad.