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memri
January 28, 2009 No.
2154

Former Lebanese President Amin Gemayel: It's Time For Hizbullah's Weapons to Return to the Control of the Lebanese State

In a speech at a Beirut rally marking the 72nd anniversary of the establishment of the Kata'ib Party and the second anniversary of the assassination of Lebanese industry minister Pierre Gemayel, Gemayel's father Amin Gemayel, who is a former president of the country and who currently is the Kata'ib party head as well as a March 14 Forces leader, harshly condemned Hizbullah for possessing weapons and called for the weapons to be returned to state control.

Following are excerpts from Gemayel's speech.[1]

Lebanon Cannot Tolerate an Illegal Military Presence Within Its Borders

"Loyalty to Lebanon… should be manifested in severing relations with external [forces], respecting the state's sovereignty, putting an end to separatism, surrendering illegal weapons, opposing the naturalization [of the Palestinian refugees], eschewing fanaticism and extremism, and [promoting] social harmony and respect for the other…

"The country cannot tolerate any illegal military presence within its borders. [It cannot tolerate] the weapons of the Palestinian organizations; it is time to collect them [wherever they are found], inside and outside the Palestinian [refugee] camps. [Similarly, Lebanon cannot tolerate] Hizbullah's weapons in the South, in the Beqa' Valley, in Beirut, in Dhahiya etc., and these should likewise be returned [to Lebanese] state [control].

"[The same is true for] the weapons belonging to fundamentalist organizations in several neighborhoods – it is time to disarm them and come out against them. The Lebanese oppose the naturalization of [the Palestinian refugees], as well as all plans [to establish] states-within-a-state in Lebanon that will possess a religious character of their own. The Lebanese want only the state of Lebanon, and only for the Lebanese…

"What is the point of seeking a defense strategy if it will never eradicate these three threats [i.e. the weapons of the Palestinians, Hizbullah, and the Lebanese fundamentalist organizations]? We seek a defense strategy to protect our homeland, while others [seek a strategy] to protect their weapons. We want a state that will protect the Lebanese land and people by means of its army and security forces, [for only thus] will the Lebanese refrain from seeking the help of external [forces], who will sooner or later bring catastrophe upon them."

The Possession of Weapons by Lebanese Organizations Is a Threat to the State

"A defense strategy is [meant to bring] peace, not war. Countries arm in order to ensure their safety and economic prosperity, not in order to start futile wars and bring back the era of occupation. For Lebanon, the only true defense is peace. A homeland cannot [tolerate the existence of] two states [within its borders], just as a state [cannot tolerate] two armies, and an army cannot tolerate [weapons in the hands of other forces] or decisions on arms issues made by [other bodies].

"The possession of arms by both Lebanese and non-Lebanese forces – who usurp [Lebanon's authority] to decide on issues of war and peace – exposes Lebanon to the risk of an Israeli attack at any moment, since [Israel] does not differentiate between aggressive forces within Lebanon [on the one hand] and the Lebanese state and people [on the other]...

"All our efforts to deal with economic problems are wasted as long as [Lebanon's] security is the hostage of authorities that oppose the official government, and as long as there is no political stability because some [Lebanese] continue to form alliances at the expense of the official regime. What Lebanese [company] will dare to expand its activities, increase its production, or create new job opportunities, unless it is certain that the state extends its sovereignty over the entire country? What foreign financier will dare invest money in Lebanon, unless peace prevails [in the country] and the sovereignty of the state extends over all its lands?"

Those Who Possess Illegal Arms Have No Concern for the Lebanese People

"What is true for investments and job opportunities is also true for aid and [foreign] grants. In other words, the fact that the state does not have exclusive control over arms precludes the Arab countries, and [other] countries that are friendly [to Lebanon], from honoring their commitments to it. The resolutions of the Paris 1, Paris 2, and Paris 3 [conferences on economic aid to Lebanon] do not go hand in hand with [the Iranian missiles] Zilzal 1, Zilzal 2, and Zilzal 3.

"Illegal arms have been used in Lebanon not only for military purposes, as during the May 7 clashes in Beirut, Tripoli, and the Beqa' Valley...[2] but also in the economic domain: they have caused production projects to be moved to other countries and large funds to be transferred overseas, and [they have] driven away large companies that energize the economy, create jobs, and prevent the emigration of our citizens.

"Those who possess these arms, and their allies, have no concern for the Lebanese people, since they are far removed from Lebanon's economic and social crisis… [This is because] they operate their own budget, funds, donations and securities, and because the framework in which they exist is, in essence, a state-within-a-state, separate from Lebanon, which has its own vital infrastructures. [Its existence] creates a rift which contravenes the content and spirit of all agreements and charters upon which Lebanon was established…"

Endnotes:

[1] Al-Mustaqbal (Lebanon), November 24, 2008.

[2] A reference to to the May 7, 2008 takeover of Beirut, Tripoli and the Beqa' valley by Amal and Hizbullah forces, in response to the Lebanese government's decision to dismantle the organization's communications network, and also in response to its decision to fire Beirut airport security chief Wafiq Shuqair, who is affiliated with Hizbullah.