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Lebanese Factions Trade Accusations over Arms Distribution and Training of Militias | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – Reports in Lebanon have claimed that foreign parties have begun to supply Lebanese militias with arms and equipment, and that some militiamen have even received training in Egypt and Jordan.

Former MP Nasser Qandil, who is affiliated to Hezbollah, has made claimed that Lebanese Forces militia are being trained in Sharm el-Sheikh, and that 70 Lebanese Forces militiamen received training in Jordan. The Lebanese Forces released a statement categorically denying these accusations, saying that “it is now new to the Lebanese to hear lies and fabrications from Nasser Qandil” and that the party intends to file a lawsuit against him.

The reports that foreign parties are attempting to exert influence within Lebanon through distributing arms and even training militias in neighboring Arab countries have come against the backdrop of the controversy surrounding the Hariri tribunal, and Hezbollah’s opposition to it.

Asharq Al-Awsat also learnt that these reports center upon the Lebanese city of Tripoli. Tripoli, of course, was the Lebanese city that witnessed bloody sectarian clashes between the [Shiite] Alawites who are centered in Jabal Mohsen and Sunni militia in the Bab al-Tabana area. Informed sources in the Lebanese city of Tripoli told Asharq Al-Awsat that “vast quantities of arms are available, but the last thing that a citizen of Tripoli needs today is a weapon because he well knows that in the event of a political decision causing the Lebanese street to explode, a weapon will be in every side’s hand and pointed in every direction.”

Lebanese opposition sources also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that “there is a new unfamiliar phenomenon that is being invoked to incite sectarianism, the most prominent examples of which can be seen broadcast on satellite television, where some satellite channels are denouncing Sunnis as unbelievers, and others are denouncing Shiites as unbelievers, with the objective of inciting sectarianism and bringing the situation to a head.”

A Future Movement source, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said that “everybody knows which party is the armed front that has resorted to using the language of threats and intimidation and which side is the defenseless party that is trying to implement justice.”

Whilst the political relations officer of the Arab Democratic Party, Rifat Ali Eid, told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the northern capital Tripoli is prepared for the expected clashes and is waiting for a political decision.” He added that “all signs confirm that we will face ruin trouble because blatant outside interference [in Lebanese affairs] is provoking sectarianism in order to incite the Lebanese arena, beginning with Tripoli.”

Rifat Ali Eid, who is the son of Arab Democratic Party leader, Ali Eid, accused both Egypt and Jordan of “sectarian incitement and supporting a project against Arabism and the resistance.” He added that “northern Lebanon has the highest proportion of Salafists and fundaments in the entire Middle East region” warning that “the Salafist project is not just a danger to Lebanon alone, but also to Europe.”

Rifat Ali Eid also said that “we have information that confirms that some Salafists are training in northern Lebanon, and following this are transported to Cyprus, then Greece, and then on to European capital, to carry out their terrorist plans.”

Eid told Asharq Al-Awsat that “we are facing the birth of a new sect, and this might be a difficult birth that is preceded by war.” He added that “in the end, one project will be defeated in favor of the other.”

Commenting on these accusations, official Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki told Asharq Al-Awsat that “it is well known who is behind such statements and their motivations; we do not deal with such statements.”