Wednesday,April 11,2007

Geagea directs stream of criticism at opposition

Beirut- Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea lashed out at Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah Tuesday, accusing him of "cheating" the Lebanese and blocking the formation of a strong state.Geagea, addressing a news conference, also accused Nasrallah of trying to carry out an agenda aimed at creating a global Islamic state that contradicts with the essence of pluralist Lebanon.

"We will not allow either Hezbollah or any other power to control our destiny and our children’s destiny," Geagea announced in an apparent response to a pledge of a half century of Hezbollah influence that Nasrallah made in a speech Sunday.

Addressing Nasrallah, Geagea said: "you are not allowing the rise of the state, you are blocking our march … a capable state cannot rise if it is surrounded by armed militias."

"We don’t want armed factions alongside the state any more. We want the state. The state cannot rise if it is surrounded by armed groups," he stressed.

Geagea’s 80-minute conference focused on countering minutes of Nasrallah’s address that has provoked angry reaction and criticism from leaders of the March 14 majority alliance that backs Premier Fouad Siniora’s government.

The capable Lebanese state, Geagea said, "will certainly rise. We and our allies believe in this state … we are facing a problem today, but in any minute you will notice that the problem will cease to exist."

Hezbollah’s target, according to Geagea, is not to liberate the Israeli-occupied Shebaa farms of south Lebanon that the Siniora government is seeking to place under United Nations supervision pending demarcation of the borders with Syria.

You want to liberate the whole of Palestine and throw the Jews in the sea. You want to push the Americans out of all Muslim lands. You want to liberate the Balkan province … We are not affiliated with this scheme," Geagea told Nasrallah.

"You have no right to take the Lebanese people hostage to carry out your strategy. The Lebanese state exists, the Lebanese entity exists and you will not be able to drag the Lebanese people into war," he added.

"No one can impose on us what we don’t want. No one can impose on us strategies or ideologies," Geagea announced.

Regarding Nasrallah’s call for a referendum to allow the people have a say in a settlement to the ongoing political crisis, Geagea asked the Hezbollah chief: "Did you ask for the people’s opinion when you staged war on July 12 and caused the death of over 1 200 Lebanese and the destruction of the country?"

He was referring to last summer’s 34-day war with Israel which started on July 12 when Hezbollah fighters kidnapped two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border attack.

Geagea accused Hezbollah’s ally, House Speaker Nabih Berri, and Syrian-backed President Emile Lahoud of blocking bills adopted by the Siniora government in order to prevent state rise.

"You want a return of the Syrian hegemony era and this will not happen," Geagea told Nasrallah.

He attacked the Hezbollah chief for saying that the international tribunal designed to try suspects in the 2005 assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri and related crimes was to announce ready-made verdicts.

"These are mere allegations that lack proof. You are cheating the Lebanese .. We want reforms," Geagea said.

He accused the General Security department, which the majority says is headed by a pro-Hezbollah general, of permitting the entry of "trucks loaded with weapons" from Syria to re-arm Hezbollah and other pro-Syrian groups in Lebanon.

Geagea said it was not up to Nasrallah to say if the Siniora government is constitutional or not "Only parliament can judge the government and your ally (Berri) does not convene it."