Geagea: Developments of Syria, Iraq Cannot Be Replicated in Lebanon
Naharnet/ August 23/14
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea accused some political powers of intimidating Christians in Lebanon with the threat of Islamist movements in the region, reported the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat on Saturday. He told the daily: “The LF has been seeking in recent weeks to reassure the people of the contrary. The developments in Syria and Iraq cannot be replicated in Lebanon for several reasons.” He did not elaborate on the matter, but added that people have been receptive of the LF’s assurances. “Who said that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is seeking to spread to Lebanon or that it is capable of doing so?” he wondered. “It will meet their grave should it come here,” declared Geagea. He lamented however that some Christian sides are working on fueling fears, hoping that the parliamentary elections would be held in order to determine whose side Christians really support. Moreover, he remarked that ISIL forces would advance on Lebanon from the eastern mountain range should they decide to attack the country, “so why haven’t the borders with Syria been properly controlled?” Several countries have proposed to help the Lebanese army control the Lebanese-Syrian border, “so why haven’t we accepted these initiatives?” he asked. He noted that it takes five soldiers to monitor every ten kilometers of the border, “which the army is easily capable of doing, so why hasn’t this happened?” Geagea accused Hizbullah of seeking to keep the border undemarcated so it would continue to be able to cross into Syria and fight alongside the country’s regime uninhibited.
Clashes broke out on August 2 between the army and Islamist militants from Syria in the northeastern border town of Arsal. Several soldiers were killed and wounded in the unrest.
A ceasefire was reached in the area on August 7. The development raised concerns that the extremism sweeping Iraq and Syria could spread to Lebanon. Several officials had been calling for better control of the border with Syria in order to curb the flow of refugees, whose numbers have exceeded 1.1 million, according to the U.N. The Change and Reform bloc warned on Tuesday that extremists “are hiding under the guise of the refugees,” warning further of the spread of extremism to Lebanon.