Rifi/Arsal Hostages Deal in ‘Final Phase/عملية ابتزاز مالية بشأن عسكريي عرسال وريفي يؤكد ان الملف بمرحلته الاخيرة


Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi Says Arsal Hostages Deal in ‘Final Phase’, Kidnappers Procrastinate over Financial Conditions

Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi stated on Saturday after meeting families of the Arsal captives that part of the thorny file could be heading towards the final stages of a solution, in light of reports that the kidnappers are trying to benefit financially from a set of new conditions before closing the deal. “The efforts exerted to solve this file are immense, and part of the file could be heading towards the final stages of a solution,” said Rifi. “I discussed in Turkey with head of the Syrian Coalition means to help the servicemen and he expressed utmost readiness to do so,” he added. Islamists militants, who abducted several Lebanese servicemen in the northeastern border town of Arsal in August 2014, are reportedly seeking to improve the financial conditions they set to release the hostages in their captivity.

An official source told al-Mustaqbal newspaper published that the “kidnappers are trying to surpass the principles that were agreed upon.”The source said that “the deal is only waiting for setting the necessary mechanism to implement it.”It pointed out that “as the agreement reached its final stages the abductors tried to blackmail the Lebanese state by raising their conditions ahead of the expected prisoners swap deal,” citing the latest video for the servicemen posted by the al-Qaida-affiliate al-Nusra Front group. “Lebanon has carried out its part to implement the deal and the ball is now in their (militants) field.”

The source stressed that the course of negotiations with the abductors wasn’t affected by the battles raging in Syria’s al-Qalamoun. On Tuesday, the captive soldiers and policemen taken hostage by al-Nusra Front warned via a video footage released by the group that they will be executed if Syria’s Qalamoun front was waged. “If the Lebanese army and Hizbullah were dragged into a battle in Qalamoun, we will be the ones to pay the price,” one of the soldiers said, accusing General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim of “lying to the families of the servicemen.”

However, Ibrahim stressed on Friday that mediators are “racing time” to secure a swap deal to free the Lebanese servicemen, amid concerns that military developments in Syria’s Qalamoun region might affect their fate. “We were in contact with the Qatari mediator last night and he told us positive news about this issue and I can confirm that the servicemen are safe. I don’t want to set a date but, God willing, a solution is imminent,” he added.

“The video that surfaced days ago will not affect us, our morale or the course of negotiations,” said Ibrahim, noting that he is seeking to finish the deal “in a manner that preserves Lebanese sovereignty and laws.” Addressing the anxious families, Ibrahim called for patience and underlined that their “pressure” will only increase the Lebanese authorities’ “determination” to finalize the case.A number of soldiers and policemen were abducted by al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) gunmen in the wake of clashes in Arsal. A few of them have since been released, four were executed, and the rest remain held.



عملية ابتزاز مالية ” بشأن عسكريي عرسال وريفي يؤكد ان الملف “بمرحلته الاخيرة”
اكد وزير العدل اشرف ريفي ان جزء من ملف عسكريي عرسال بات في مرحلته الاخيرة في وقتٍ كشفت فيه مصادر سياسية ان خاطفي العسكريين يمارسون “ابتزازاً يتعلق بالشق المالي” قبل انجاز صفقة تحرير الاسرى. وبعد لقائه اهالي العسكريين من وزارة العدل، السبت، اكد ريفي ان ” الجهود التي تبذل في الملف جبارة وجزء من الملف قد يكون في مرحلته الاخيرة”. واضاف: ” بحثت مع رئيس الائتلاف السوري في تركيا المساعدة في حل ملف العسكريين وهو جاهز تماماً”. وفي المقابل، اكد أهالي العسكريين المخطوفين انهم لن يقومون بأي تصعيد طالم “ا أننا لم نلمس أي تقصير من قبل الدولة”. هذا ونقلت صحيفة “المستقبل” عن مرجع رسمي، السبت، اشارته الى “محاولة الخاطفين تجاوز بعض القواعد والمعايير المتفق عليها لإنجاز صفقة تحرير العسكريين”. واوضح أنّ هذا “الابتزاز الذي يُمارسه الخاطفون يتعلّق بالشق المالي من الصفقة”. وإذ شدد على كون عملية التفاوض “مستمرة وقائمة ووصلت إلى خواتيمها”، قال المرجع الرسمي ان الخاطفين “أن يقوموا بعملية التفاف وابتزاز لرفع السقوف وتحسين الشروط”. وفي المقابل، أكد المرجع عبر “المستقبل” أنّ “الجانب اللبناني أنجز كل المطلوب منه وباتت الكرة في ملعب الطرف الآخر لإنجاز الصفقة”. وأضاف: “الجهة الخاطفة لديها مصلحة بإنجاز الصفقة لأنها ستحصل بموجبها على بعض المساجين، ولبنان أيضاً لديه مصلحة وطنية في ذلك لتحرير واستعادة عسكرييه لكنه في الوقت عينه مُلتزم بأصول وقواعد التفاوض”.