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Divisions deepen in Lebanon

Opposition: Hezbollah acting like mini-state, trying to impose its views on the state

Rafik Hariri
Image Credit: AP
Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Lebanon has financed its portion of a UN-backed court investigating the death of statesman Rafiq Hariri (pictured), resolving months of political wrangling
Gulf News

Dubai: The Lebanese opposition Sunday accused Hezbollah of acting like a "mini-state" trying to impose its views on the state, hours after the leader of the group Hassan Nasrallah said the four Hezbollah members accused of murdering former premier Rafik Hariri will not be handed even in "300 years."

Analysts, meanwhile, said the indictments and arrest warrants against the four members of Hezbollah issued by the the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) will not be implemented, as the government will not be able to execute it amid Hezbollah's denouncement of the court and its decisions.

The Hezbollah leader's speech "confirms the principle that the mini-state, to which Hezbollah belongs, is attempting to impose its positions on the logic of the state," said Ammar Houry, an MP from March 14 bloc.

The bloc, which includes Muslim and Christian factions and parties, is headed by Future movement, a political group led by former prime minister Sa'ad Rafik Hariri.

True protection

"He [Nasrallah] tried to say that it is up to me, and you all as Lebanese and international community carry no importance. This talk is not accepted, and we believe that justice is what constitutes true protection to the future of the political life in Lebanon," Houry told Gulf News.

Later Sunday, the bloc held a meeting stressing the necessity of delivering justice, members noted. The meeting came hours after the Hezbollah leader gave a speech on Saturday evening in which he denounced the investigation as a plot by Israel.

In his first public comment since the STL's released the indictments on Thursday, Nasrallah said the suspects named in the indictment are brothers "who have an honourable history in resisting Israeli occupation".

Furthermore, he said: "we work on the basis of not embarrassing the government, or anybody else. And I believe they will not be found or arrested or detained [the four people] not in 30 days, or 60 days, or one year, or two years, or 30 years or 300 years, because the rules of the small and big games are known," Nasrallah said.

"What will happen is a trial in absentia, a trial in which the verdict has already been reached."

The group has denied earlier any involvement in the 2005 assassination of Hariri in a massive car explosion. The bombing on February 14 killed 22 people.

"There will be no implementation [of the indictments]," said Elias Hanna, a retired Lebanese Army General.

"The government will go ahead with legal procedures, but the indictments will not be executed. The government can't implement them, even [if] it was headed by Sa'ad Hariri or [his ally and former Premier] Fouad Siniora," he told Gulf News.

‘Red line'

While describing the move of arresting the four indicted as "a red line" for Hezbollah, Hanna explained that the group doubts that the tribunal will achieve justice. It feels concerned that investigations with the indicted could go to "upper levels" of leaderships.

Deepening differences between the March 14 bloc and the other bloc headed by Hezbollah called March 8, which also includes Muslims and Christians, are not expected to develop into Sunni-Shiite tensions, analysts and politicians said.

"It is not in the interest of anybody," said Houry. "If it happens, it will spread like a wild fire."

Hanna agreed and said developments in Lebanon depend more on the situation in Syria, which has an influence on events in Lebanon.

While Hanna believes the STL indictments have led to a new reality in the country, he ruled out the possibility of a new military confrontation with Israel over the indictments.

"Today, Hezbollah sits at the helm [of power]. Why should it [start] a war?" "Today, the group is much powerful .... and has many ministries allied with it….. why should it [start] a war?"