Lebanese Politician Samy Gemayel: Lebanon Cannot Cope With Such Multitudes of Syrian Refugees; Hizbullah Is Dragging Us into Conflicts We Have Nothing to Do With
Samy Gemayel, the President of the Lebanese Phalanges Party, said in a July 26, 2019 interview on Al-Hurra TV (U.S.) that Lebanon cannot cope with the 1.5 million Syrian refugees that it has absorbed over the past seven years and which, according to Gemayel, currently constitute 40% of Lebanon's population. He said that it is only natural for the Lebanese people to want a solution to this problem and he said that all countries should share in Lebanon's burden. Gemayel also bemoaned the fact that Lebanon has suffered disproportionately from the Syrian crisis simply as a result of its proximity to Syria. In addition, Gemayel was highly critical of Hizbullah, saying that its existence as an armed militia runs counter to international norms and to the law and constitution of Lebanon. He called for Hizbullah's military capabilities to be placed under the command of the Lebanese military and he said that Hizbullah's influence in the Lebanese government is to the country's detriment. Gemayel added that Hizbullah is causing an increase in national tensions because of its eagerness to fight alongside Iran were a war to break out between the U.S. and Iran. He said: "Lebanon should be neutral... The Lebanese have nothing to do with [this conflict]."
Samy Gemayel: "Lebanon cannot cope with so many refugees. When any country in the world takes 100 or 1,000 refugees, all hell breaks loose, and they start negotiating or whatever. In Lebanon, we have 1.5 million refugees. They constitute over 40% of Lebanon's population. They have been here for seven years and there is no [solution] on the horizon. The world needs to understand that Lebanon is incapable of coping with this. It is only natural for the Lebanese to say today: ‘We don't care how, when, or where, but we want this problem solved.' All the countries must bear the burden with us. Our only fault, as Lebanese, is that we are across the border from Syria. Aside from that, we have nothing to do with the Syrian crisis. We didn't cause it and we have nothing to do with it.
"The existence of Hizbullah as an armed militia runs counter to the law and constitution of Lebanon, as well as all the international norms. There cannot be an armed militia within a state. This militia does not obey Lebanon and has no connection to it. So we reiterate our call to place Hizbullah's military capabilities under the command of the Lebanese military and to end this deviant state of affairs within the Lebanese state. The problem today is even worse, because this militia controls the official decision-making in Lebanon by means of its allies in the presidency, the government, and the parliament.
"If we did not have such an armed militia that does not obey the state – a militia that threatens to retaliate for any strike on Iran – we would not have such tensions in Lebanon. We believe that Lebanon should be neutral. How is a war between Iran and America any of Lebanon's business? Lebanon should be neutral. Lebanon's problem today is that Hizbullah is dragging the country into a war that the Lebanese have nothing to do with."