Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat –Accusations are being traded in Lebanon between the March 8 Alliance and the March 14 Alliance against the backdrop of the unrest in Syria. March 8 Alliance figures have accused the March 14 Alliance, and particularly the Future movement of supporting the Syrian anti-government protestors, sending figures to Syria to incite riots and provide money and arms to the protestors. Hezbollah media affiliates also accused the Future movement of “lies and slander.” The Future movement denied these charges. The Future movement’s political leadership has been keen to confirm “its refusal to interfere in Syrian affairs, and its commitment to Syrian stability.” As for the accusation of arms smuggling, March 14 Alliance leadership figures stressed that they do not even possess arms to defend themselves, unlike Hezbollah, “so how can it be distributing weaponry?”
There have also been unconfirmed reports in the Lebanese media that the Syrian authorities seized 7 ships attempting to enter the country loaded with arms. Lebanese sources close to Damascus also claimed that the Syrian authorities detained Lebanese citizens involved in the recent unrest in the country and obtained confessions in this regard. Sources also claimed that the authorities had seized Lebanese money and checks issued by banks affiliated to the Lebanese Future movement. The Lebanese authorities have yet to issue an official position confirming or denying the reports that ships loaded with arms, traveling from Tripoli in Lebanon to Damascus, had attempted to gain access to the country however Syrian state television denied these reports, claiming that Syria has not seized any arms, and has not arrested anybody in this regard. The unrest in Syria is undoubtedly affecting the situation in Lebanon, according to a famous Lebanese political phrase, namely “the destruction of Syria means the destruction of Lebanon.”
Lebanese sources informed Asharq Al-Awsat that strict instructions have been given to Hezbollah affiliates to not travel to Syria during this period of unrest, in order to avoid any friction or surprises, particularly against the backdrop of the Syrian opposition claims that Hezbollah members took part in suppressing anti-government protesters in Deraa.
Syrian authorities are searching all Lebanese citizens entering the country, and closely inspecting their travel documents, in light of the difficult situation in the country. This is a complete reversal of the previous situation and ease of crossing between Lebanon and Syria, which saw car passengers not even having to leave their vehicles when crossing from Lebanon into Syria. Syrian authorities at the three border crossings between Lebanon and Syria are working extremely actively in this regard, searching hand luggage and questioning visitors [to Syria] regarding the nature and length of their visit, as well as where they will be staying.
In a related context, Future movement Secretary-General Ahmed al-Hariri said that all the talk about problems between the Future movement and Syrian demonstrators are nothing more than “an attempt to embroil the Future movement in an issue it has nothing to do with whatsoever.” He added that “Syria knows that its interests and stability affects us and the stability of Lebanon.” He added that “the people of Syria are noble and do not require any foreign intervention [in their affairs]” calling on “those who want to embroil the Future movement [in problems] to try a different tact.”
Future movement MP Ammar al-Houri also said that “there is an unethical campaign to implicate the Future movement in what is happening in Syria.” He stressed that “this is something that we have nothing to do with whatsoever” adding that “the Future movement rejects anybody interfering in Lebanese internal affairs, and also rejects any Lebanese interfering in other countries internal affairs.”