The leader of Hamas accused his political opponent of trying to ignite a religious war in Lebanon that will pit Christians against Shia Muslims in a civil war similar to the three-decade conflict that wracked the country and killed 120,000.
Nasrallah accuses Military leader
In a televised address on Monday, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Jezbollah in Lebanon, accused the Christian Lebanese Forces party of killing seven of its Shia Muslim followers at a demonstration last Thursday.
In his address, Nasrallah accused the party and Samir Geagea, the executive chairman of the Lebanese Forces, of trying to start an internecine conflict in the country.
“The real program of the Lebanese Forces party is civil war,” Nasrallah said.
The Lebanese Civil War, fought from 1975-1990 began as a conflict between between Maronite Christian and Palestinian forces (mainly from the Palestine Liberation Organization) . Later,leftist, pan-Arabist and Muslim Lebanese groups formed an alliance with the Palestinians.
“They don’t have a problem with causing events that lead to bloodshed,” Nasrallah said. “Even if it will lead to a large-scale military confrontation of civil war.”
Nasrallah insisted that Hezbollah’s presence at the protest was entirely peaceful.
“We don’t didn’t carry weapons or take any security measures, and let the security agencies handle it because it was in a sensitive area,” he said.
In an explicit threat, Nasrallah warned that Hezbollah has 100,000 “armed, trained, and experienced” fighters. If Nasrallah’s claim is true, it would mean that the terror group is larger than Lebanon’s official armed forces which are estimated at about 85,000.
Hanin Ghaddar, an expert in Arab politics at The Washington Institute, doubted the claim.
#Nasrallah just said #Hezbollah has 100,000 fighters. This is a big exaggeration, even if you include the reservists. In addition, quantity is one thing, but quality of their fighters has been shaken by long wars, budget shifts, and emergency recruiting during #Syria.
— Hanin Ghaddar (@haningdr) October 18, 2021
The street fighting in Beirut on Thursday was the worst street violence in Beirut in over a decade, lasting several hours with combatants on both sides wielding rocket propelled grenades (RPG) and automatic weapons.
“We have prepared (those fighters) with their diverse weapons to defend our territory, our oil and gas that is being robbed before the eyes of Lebanese, to protect the dignity and sovereignty of our country from any aggression (and) terrorism and not for internal fighting,” Nasrallah said.
“Don’t miscalculate, ” Nasrallah said, warning Geagea directly. “Be wise and behave. Learn a lesson from all your wars and all our wars.”
Nasrallah accused Geagea and his party of trying to scare Lebanon’s Christians over Hezbollah’s intentions. He claimed that this fear served foreign interests while leading governments like Israel, the US, and Arab states in the Gulf region to demonize Hezbollah.
Nasrallah insisted that Hezbollah posed no threat to the country’s Christians.
“The biggest threat to the Christian presence in Lebanon is the Lebanese Forces party and its head,” Nasrallah said.
Geagea led the Lebanese Forces Christian militia during the 1975-90 civil war and a longtime vocal opponent of Hezbollah, He also opposes the regime of Syrian President Bashar al Assad. Geagea denied Nasrallah’s accusation that he ordered the attack.
The demonstration called for the removal of Judge Tarek Bitar from the panel investigating the catastrophic explosion at the Port of Beirut last year. Hezbollah claims Bitar is biased and politically motivated, targeting some officials for political reasons while ignoring others.
It should be noted that the blast that killed 218, injured over 7,000, and left an estimated 275,000 homeless was caused by 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored at the port by Hezbollah for use as explosives. An investigation into the disaster would most likely implicate Hezbollah.
Nasrallah insists Bitar’s investigation should focus on judicial officials that permitted the ship carrying the explosive ammonium nitrate into the port.
“There are embassies, references, and there is politics involved,” Nasrallah said.