Accusing Samir Geagea’s LF party of “inventing an enemy to gain legitimacy,” Hassan Nasrallah warns, “We have over 100,000 trained fighters.”
By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News
The secretary-general of Hezbollah in Lebanon threatened Monday that if the leader of a rival Christian party does not back off from a simmering confrontation with the Iran-backed terrorist organization, civil war could break out again.
Speaking for the first time since seven Shiites were killed in a street battle in Beirut with followers of the Christian Lebanese Forces (LF) party last week, Hassan Nasrallah accused LF head Samir Geagea of having ulterior motives in lying about who instigated the deadly exchange of gunfire.
“Some senior members of the forces mentioned the name ‘Resistance’ (Hezbollah) as carrying weapons in front of the demonstrators,” he said in a live televised speech. “The chairman of this party is trying to create an imaginary enemy for our neighbors…in order to gain legitimacy.”
Hezbollah claims that LF snipers on rooftops fired at Moslem protestors approaching a Christian neighborhood in Beirut, while the Christians say some in the crowd came armed with guns and rocket-propelled grenades and started the fight.
The demonstrators were calling for the removal of the judge investigating last year’s massive explosion at the city’s port that was caused by improperly stored ammonium nitrate owned by Hezbollah. Judge Tarek Bitar has been demanding that senior government officials appear for questioning in the case, and Hezbollah says he is unfairly targeting its men in the probe and should be removed.
“The real agenda of the Lebanese Forces is civil war,” Nasrallah added, and called the party, rather than his Shiite forces, “the biggest threat to the Christian presence in Lebanon.” His faction, he reminded his listeners, was allied with the country’s largest Christian party, the Free Patriotic Movement.
That party’s founder, Michel Aoun, is currently the Lebanese president thanks to Hezbollah support. Geagea deeply opposes Aoun’s alliance with the Shiite force. The LF head was a leader on the Christian side during Lebanon’s 1975-1990 internecine war, and sat in jail for a decade for his actions.
Nasrallah advised Geagea “to abandon the idea of civil war” as it would be smart not to test his group.
“You are wrong one hundred percent, your calculations are wrong. Hezbollah is stronger today than it has ever been,” he declared. “Our fighters are trained at the highest level to protect Lebanon from outside and inside enemies. And we have over 100,000 such trained fighters.”
It is impossible to know if Nasrallah is telling the truth about the numbers he commands. If it is true, his armed force outnumbers the regular Lebanese army.