The Secretary-General of the Lebanese group Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, said in a televised speech Monday (October 18, 2021) that the violence in Beirut last week, in which seven Shiites were killed, is a dangerous development and constitutes a new stage in the country’s internal politics.
In his first comments since the worst violence in Beirut in more than a decade, Nasrallah sharply criticized the Christian Lebanese Forces party and its leader, Samir Geagea, repeating accusations that he was behind Thursday’s killings. Nasrallah said in his televised speech: “The real program of the Lebanese Forces Party is the civil war.”
The sound of heavy gunfire in the southern suburbs of Beirut, a stronghold of Hezbollah, to celebrate the start of Nasrallah’s speech, which comes amid heightened tension regarding the investigation into the port explosion last year.
The Secretary-General of Hezbollah said that the party had 100,000 fighters with their equipment, and that the group was not stronger than it is now, adding: “I advise the party and its leader to completely abandon the idea of internal fighting and civil war…I tell you, you are thinking wrong.” “Hezbollah in the region has never been stronger than it is now.”
Nasrallah stressed that Hezbollah is not an enemy of Lebanon’s Christians. He continued, “The biggest threat to the security of the Christian community is the Lebanese Forces party and its leader.”
Seven Shiites were killed on Thursday in violence in Beirut, as crowds were on their way to protests called by the Iran-backed Hezbollah group and its ally, the Amal movement. The bloodshed brought back memories of the civil war that raged in the country between 1975 and 1990.
For its part, the Lebanese Forces party condemned Thursday’s events and blamed the violence on Hezbollah’s “incitement” against Judge Tariq Bitar, the principal investigator in the Beirut port explosion.
The Lebanese Forces party blamed the unrest on the other side by sending its supporters to the Christian neighborhood of Ain al-Rummaneh, where it says four residents were wounded before any bullets could be fired.
Earlier, the Lebanese Shiite movement Amal said Monday that the violence that took place in Beirut last week aims to revive internal strife and threaten civil peace.
The movement said in a statement: “What happened puts all the Lebanese in front of the reality of what these groups are doing in an attempt to revive internal strife and national division and threaten civil peace and bring the Lebanese back to the time of internal wars.”
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri leads the Amal movement and is one of the most influential political figures in the country. The movement urged the authorities to arrest those responsible for the violence.
The investigation into the port explosion, which on August 4, 2020, killed more than 200 people and caused widespread destruction in Beirut, made little progress amid opposition from political factions.